Taste the Joy in Your Holidays
By: Tara DelloIacono Thies
An advertisement for a holiday eating nutrition seminar recently came across my desk. It read, Holiday Eating Survival: Worried about holiday overeating? Dreading the physical exhaustion and food remorse that seems to flow from November to January?
A few key words jumped off the page and bit me in the stomach: “survival”, “worry”, “dread”,” exhaustion”, and finally “remorse”. As an advocate for great tasting, healthy food that can be enjoyed and shared, I was disturbed to read that holiday eating could cause these feelings. I wondered how prevalent it was to see the word “survival” associated with holiday eating; and so I asked the Google machine. It spat out 129,000 hits containing the language “Holiday Eat Survival”. When did holiday eating become something you must “survive”? You survive a desert for days with no food or water; you survive being lost at sea; or you survive living on the streets. You do not survive a meal that brings you together with family and friends.
Holiday celebrations bring us together around a common interest (need), FOOD. It is intensely personal when someone invites you into their home and cooks for you, and you shouldn’t look at it as if you are preparing for battle. Your hosts are sharing a piece of themselves. OK, so maybe Grandma thinks you are too skinny and wants to fatten you up, or maybe your Aunt Lucy refuses to acknowledge your vegetarianism. Of course, proceed with caution into these environments and bring something to contribute to the meal that you know you can eat. Take note that I am not advocating for a gluttonous pig-out, but I am saying be a gracious guest and don’t over think an “eating strategy” to get through Christmas dinner when you are under Grandma’s roof.
Give yourself some wiggle room and allow yourself to enjoy the scrumptious meals of the season. At the company holiday party don’t expend too much energy agonizing over how many appetizers you ate or how you should’ve skipped that decadent red velvet cheesecake. Enjoy the event and know you won’t be eating another piece anytime soon.
If weight gain from overindulgence and excessive calorie consumption is weighing down your enjoyment of the season, you should know that studies have found the average weight gain from October through December is far less than commonly reported and less than one pound. This illustrates that it is not what you eat during the final quarter of the year that you have to worry about. Your eating behaviors during the other three quarters of the year are what really count. If you have well-established healthy eating and exercise practices to fall back on, you’ll be just fine during the holidays.
I am sure you would all agree that if you could enjoy the tastes of the holidays without putting on weight, well, that just might be heaven. I am here to say you can. Here are some suggestions that might help you embrace holiday eating rather than just survive it.
- Move it. Like the postal person—rain, shine, sleet, or snow—get out and enjoy some exercise.
- Be selective. Not all holiday treats are that good, really, so skip some.
- Take in the scene! Pause before you devour every bite on your plate and enjoy the conversation, the table setting, or just good people watching.
- Don’t go hungry! Eat an organic apple before heading to the party so your hunger monster doesn’t take over at the buffet.
- Eat breakfast! Skipping meals saves neither time nor calories at the end of the day.
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