By Gretchen Powell
Alas, Thanksgiving has come and gone. The turkey has been carved, the pies baked, and I do believe we all ate very well. We’ve stuffed ourselves with stuffing, went back for seconds of sweet potato casserole, curled up into a bed of mashed potatoes, and topped it all off with a generous helping of gravy. And it was glorious.
But, as with most big holiday meals – and with most big meals in general, including that celebratory steakhouse dinner or that third slice of birthday cake – sooner or later, we’re forced to face up to our culinary indulgences. I’ve spent more than a few post-holiday mornings trying desperately not to recount exactly how many slices of pumpkin-pecan-apple-chocolate pie I ate (what, you don’t combine all your holiday pies into one MegaDessert plate?) whilst simultaneously avoiding any room that might even have a chance of containing a scale.
Yes, by the time Monday rolls back around, the wonder of the holidays has already disappeared. All thought of how beautiful the holiday itself was, all the jokes that were made and laughs that were heard while cooking with my mother, all the praise and oohs and ahhs from family members when it came time for that first bite, all of it is – poof! – gone in a flash. Because, for the longest time, worrying about my weight and doing post-holiday damage control takes precedence over preserving those memories.
So this year I’m taking on a new holiday perspective. Instead of spending half my holiday worrying about how to control my snacking when I go to my neighbor’s cookie exchange, or kicking myself afterwards for having that extra snickerdoodle, I’m just going to, well, not. I’m not going to obsess; I’m not going to worry. Or, at the very least, I’m going to try not to obsess or to worry. It’s a work in progress.
I’ve spent so many holidays forcing myself to make choices I really didn’t want to make, being prisoner to the word or. I can have an appetizer or dessert. I can try one of Cousin Sarah’s maple pecan blondies or one of Aunt Enid’s praline and caramel cookies. I can have potatoes au gratin or roasted potatoes with dinner. And, as it turns out, constantly depriving yourself of the things you want is really counterproductive. Because, being honest again, I probably ended up going back for that praline and caramel cookie anyway, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I felt too guilty.
So this year, I’m embracing the word and. I can have a blondie and a cookie, and not feel bad about it. I can have a salad for lunch and a huge slab of roast beef with two kinds of potatoes for dinner, and not feel like I “ruined” anything. I can bake cookies and make gingerbread houses and go to the gym for a normal amount of time, without feeling like I need to “work off” the calories. This season, I can do it all.
Now, I promise I’m not trying to give license to throwing caution to the wind and eating my entire weight in sugar every day from now until Christmas. I’m just saying that there are some things more precious than the few pounds I may or may not put on between now and New Year’s. And that is something to which I can happily raise my glass of eggnog.
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.