"You're going on a diet?" a friend asked incredulously when I told her I was trying out the Day-Off Diet for the first week of 2016. Her skepticism wasn't a surprise. I'm known for considering diet to be a dirty four-letter word — it seems restrictive and just plain mean. My munching mindset: Eat what you want, just make most of it healthy and keep portions in check. And, for the most part, I stick to that rule. A vegetarian of over 20 years, I typically load my plate up with heaps of veggies and a good balance of whole grains and protein, whether from tofu, beans, nuts, or dairy sources.
But what my friend didn't know is that the holidays did a number on me. After a particularly indulgent couple of weeks, my addiction to chocolate was at the 12-step level. I was eating Lindt chocolate truffles for breakfast, cookies for lunch, chocolate candy bars for dinner, and snacking on whatever other treats I could get my sticky hands on. My sweet tooth was in overdrive and a little dietary guidance was just what the doctor ordered.
When Monday morning rolled around, I kept fingers crossed that breakfast would be satisfying enough to keep me from reaching for the emergency truffle rolling around seductively at the bottom of my purse. Our company's cafeteria was kind enough to prep #DayOffDiet meals for the week, and that day, they served the apple-banana smoothie. Ladies and gents, it's delish. So good I forgot about the truffle. It was just what I needed to snap out of my sugar craze: Greek yogurt, walnuts, and chia seeds gave the thick drink a punch of protein that kept me full until lunchtime, and a sprinkling of cinnamon added a subtle sweetness.
More important, kicking off the day on a healthy note made me less inclined to go on a mad hunt for cocoa-covered anything. (Turns out that when you don't eat chocolate for breakfast, you don't feel the need to nosh on it non-stop until bedtime — shocker, I know.) I stayed on track for the remainder of the week with my Oz-approved morning meals, like a sunny-side-up egg and wilted spinach with a side of Greek yogurt and fruit and a peach smoothie, which helped me sail through the rest of the program.*
I ended the week more energized, less bloated, and in control of my sweets cravings. On Sunday, my designated "day off," I even bypassed the pain au chocolate at my local café and ordered a bagel instead. That's not just willpower, folks; that's Day-Off Diet smarts at work. Will I ever look at a double fudge brownie again? Of course I will. But I'll make sure that when I do stare at it lovingly, it's not 8:30 in the morning.
*Okay, I'll 'fess up: One particularly stressful afternoon I gave in and devoured the truffle. But a single small candy is better than an entire week of plowing my way through chocolate, so I still consider my Day-Off Diet experience a win.