The holiday season is a time of happiness, warmth, and family. It’s also filled with pies, cookies, mashed potatoes, pasta, and anything carb. This is the best time of year for many and the worst time for healthy eating. But fear not, you can indulge in holiday treats while still eating healthy and loving your body.
Have one, not none. Extreme and constant restriction is almost a definite way of bingeing. I’m speaking from experience, telling yourself you cannot have any dessert at the holiday party will leave you unhappy, bingeing on everything, or both. Instead, have a small amount of chocolate bark, a bit of mac and cheese, and load up on the healthier items. A balance of healthy and less healthy foods is a key to a happy, successful diet.
If you do choose to indulge, a way to feel better about the extra consumption is by putting the extra energy to use. Food and nutrients are a means of survival. We eat to obtain energy to continue with our lives and essential survive. So, instead of sulking about the larger-than-you-wanted serving of pie, put the calories (aka energy) to use and exercise. Do not use exercise as punishment for indulging, rather as a way to put the energy to use.
Since you’re going to have a small portion of that delicious food, make sure you eat slow. Savor it and even save it as the last thing you eat. Eating slow not only allows you to enjoy the food for longer, it also helps you get full quicker. Slow eating forces your brain into thinking you’ve had more to eat than you actually have, which is good for those who are looking for fat loss. This does not mean you should under eat, rather eat until you are full.
If you are cooking the indulgent food, you can try editing the recipes so that there are more nutrient-dense and wholesome ingredients. For example, if you’re craving gingerbread cheesecake dip, replace the cream cheese with Greek yogurt to save calories and also remove saturated fat. Use both green apples and gingerbread cookies to dip instead of just gingerbread cookies.
Last, and most important, do not fear any foods. This will only cause you to have a bad relationship with food and possibly send you into a cycle of binge, restrict, binge. Rather, have a good relationship with food. Understand it is a means of survival, energy, and even happiness at times. It’s okay to have a hot chocolate on a cold night; it’s normal to have your aunt’s delicious dessert at the family dinner. Food is your friend. Food is loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and yes sometimes carbs—it is okay to have all of these. Remember, health isn’t a body type, it is a state of being.
Photo by Brooke Lark