The season for eating has begun. Not only does the colder weather bring a hankering for heavy, comforting dishes stuffed with yummy goodness (like the vat of homemade Mac and cheese I consumed last night), but food is the centerpiece at the holidays we celebrate this time of year.
Gulp. Take a deep breath. This does not have to be stress-inducing.
Food, and eating and enjoying it, not a bad thing, nor should it be seen as a villain. It is simply knowing your limits, listening to your body’s signals, choosing healthy and manageable portions, and maintaining healthy habits during the other days.
Halloween kicked things off with the delectable options of chocolate dangling over my head, but when I reached into the bowl, I chose a few of my favorites, portioned them out over a course of days, and savored what I enjoyed.
Isn’t that the kicker? When we eat eat eat and haven’t even processed what it was we consumed? Holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones and taking the time to appreciate what you have and who you have it with. Food is part of this, but make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating, both from an approach of keeping track and to enjoy. Often, when we really take the time to savor things, we find that a little less hits the spot in a big way.
On Thanksgiving, I try not to pay too much attention to all the calories I’m consuming because I know it’s one day. My go to approach over the past few years has been to start the day with a refreshing, energizing, and filling breakfast before fitting in a strong sweat session. I get myself to the gym to squeeze in some strength conditioning because it burns calories all day long along with short bursts of cardio for the full effect. This could simply be banging out a few sets of body strength moves like lunges, squats, push ups, etc and a few sprints.
After dinner, before I settle myself down onto the couch with a cup of Baileys and coffee, I go out for a long walk with my mom and whoever else wants to join. This eases the digestion process, keeps your juices flowing, and makes that dessert go down easier a little later.
Foodwise, I enjoy a bite of the delicious appetizers my mom cooks up like the culinary genius she is, but save my heartier appetite for the main course. I am lucky because I happen to like vegetables, but even if you have to smother them in gravy, cranberry sauce, or melted marshmallow, eat em all up! Nothing helps your body process a day of stuffing your face quite like throwing a handful of veggies along with it- and that earlier workout or walk!
It might help to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. Dieting gives off the thinking that something is temporary. Most people can’t cut carbs, sugar, or meat forever, but see it as a temporary fix to help them lose weight. This reminds me a lot of the thinking behind some of those weight loss programs that provide premade food. It may help you to lose weight initially, but it does nothing to help you learn good habits and how to eat real food. If you cut something that’s your own choice, but please don’t think you have to do it to be healthy.
Diets can end, but dedicating your life to being healthy more often than not is a lifetime commitment that gets easier the longer you do it. Losing weight is hard, maintaining is harder, depending on your initial approach to weight loss. Take it from someone whose worked through that with blood, sweat, and tears. If you see it as a lifestyle, those habits become ingrained and not quite as fear-inducing. Plus, you don’t have to cut out all the goodness!
You also won’t feel as bad if you have a grand day of feasting because you trust your instincts and you choose the things that you really want, rather than waste time, energy, and calories on things you don’t really care about.
Also very important, which is always important: drink, no chug, WATER. Drink more water friends! Always and every day.
Thanksgiving is often so busy and enjoyable that you don’t even find time to feel guilty. Well, guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty at all! The next day, if those dredges of doubt and self-sabotage course through you, remember it was one day. Sticking to your usual healthy eating and work out plan during the days leading up to and after the holidays will almost make this huge splurge day nonexistent in the scheme of your life.
There’s a reason why we stuff ourselves into oversized Christmas sweaters after Thanksgiving hits, but don’t allow any splurging to derail your confidence or healthy habits. I always remind myself that moderation is key and any day is a new day to start on over, even if it’s at 11:55 at night and you’ve talked yourself out of eating that sleeve of Oreos. That’s progress! Side note, why are Oreos so good? Asking for a friend. For the record, if I reach in for the Oreos, I stick with one and maybe two, not the sleeve.
Christmas necessitates much of the same game plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving. In general, I would just say to enjoy yourselves, appreciate and be thankful for what you have- every day- but take this day to really feel that love from family, friends, and food!
Gobble, gobble my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!
*Note: pictures were found on Google. Thanks for letting me use them if they are yours. Credit where credit is due 🙂