By Gretchen Powell
Thanksgiving has come and gone (deliciously, I might add). Every day that we sink deeper into December brings extra tree-shaped cookies, tins full of fudge, and multi-colored pots of Hershey’s Kisses. It’s officially time for that annual holiday gut check.
See, the holidays can be a confusing time for someone in the throes of trying to live a healthy life. There is food temptation everywhere, sure, but it goes beyond that. Constantly having food on your mind, trying to decide what to eat, what to indulge on, whether or not you should have a cookie and some eggnog, is incredibly wearying. And it is definitely not a healthy mentality.
The key to surviving the holidays, whether you are trying to lose weight or just uphold healthy habits, is to strike a balance. It’s not about depriving yourself of all your favorite holiday treats, just as it’s not about gorging on them either. It does nobody any good to make yourself miserable because you had to pass on demolishing the family gingerbread house this year.
Find a way to balance your indulgences with healthy choices at the same time. That way, you won’t end up so deprived that you snap and end up inhaling an entire baking sheet of Grandma’s secret recipe cookies. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. That holiday potluck your neighbor is throwing? Fill your plate with vegetables and hummus, then add a couple of sweets on top. That big family dinner? Try to divvy your plate up evenly with salad, grain, and protein. Intersperse a glass of water with your mug of hot cocoa or apple cider. There are plenty of ways to indulge without overindulging.
The holidays are supposed to be a time filled with merriment, cheer, and love. They are not, and never were, designed for guilt, self-loathing, and discontent. Embrace that. And always remember, even if you over do it, even if you indulge in a little too much, if you step on the scale one morning and you are filled with disappointment: it’s okay. It will be all right. Tomorrow is a new day. Heck, even your next meal is a new opportunity to try and find that happy medium again.
For me, the most important thing to remember is not to use the month of December as a Get-Out-of-Weighing-Yourself card. It’s easy to slip into thinking that, “Oh, well. Next month is New Year’s anyway. I’ll just start again, then.” You never have to put off starting over, especially when moderation is the name of the game. Healthy living is an ongoing process, and life is always going to influence the choices you make. That goes double during the holiday season, when your number one priority should be your overall health, which includes mental and emotional, not just physical.
Happy holidays, everyone! May your minds be full of holiday cheer, and your bellies be full… in a balanced way, of course!
Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more, visit honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.