There are so many wonderful things about the holidays. Celebrating with friends and family. Time off from work. A break from school. Catching up with loved ones we haven’t seen in awhile. A time of giving thanks and gifts. Cozy pajamas and beautiful lights. Tasty food, drinks, and treats.
While there are many wonderful holiday pros, there are unfortunately cons, too. I am not talking about holiday traffic, fights with family, or battling the mall to get gifts (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!). One of the biggest challenges for many is the battle to balance enjoying the tasty treats with not over-doing it, not gaining a few extra pounds, or not feeling “blah” and “yuck.” Binge moments or consecutive holiday engagements can really diminish our ability to enjoy the holidays as much as we would like.
After Thanksgiving, Turn South With No Return.
The downward spiral typically starts at Thanksgiving and goes through New Years. I say it can even start as early as Halloween with all the candy around.
Here are some scenarios when healthy habits go south at the holidays. Have you had any of these conversations with yourself?
Right after Thanksgiving weekend: “Whoa, I had so much at Thanksgiving and then ate out a lot with family, plus all the leftovers! I totally overdid it.”
Early December until holiday time off: “Treats at work. Multiple holiday parties. Cookie exchanges. Treat gifts from family, friends, neighbors, clients, and coworkers. A little of each thing adds up. It all tastes good. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Oh, all the cocktails. Holiday Cheer, right?!? And even though I feel kinda overstuffed and a little on the crappy side, hey, the new year is just around the corner. So this is temporary. After all, it is just impossible to be good through the holidays. So let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for January 2nd is only a couple of weeks away. Then, I’ll finally start eating better …promise, this time I’ll do it and make it last.”
Big holiday dinners to New Years Day: “So much good stuff and time with friends and family. I want it but I don’t want it. Remember January 2nd will be here soon. I am honestly feeling done with all this eating and drinking. I am not doing this again next year.”
January 2nd: “Whoa! I’m 5+ pounds heavier and have lots of bloating so I am now questioning whether the indulgence was really worth it. And although I want to change, now I need to change, where do I begin? I’ve blown it so much over the last month and a half. It seems like so much work to correct. Not only correct but then to maintain, too.”
Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? I’ll admit, it has been my experience in the past.
Holiday Balance? Totally Possible.
I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer about the holidays, I just know from clients and even personal experience that the holidays make maintaining healthy habits a real struggle. The holidays are meant to be a joyous time, but can quickly flip to where you feel “blah” through it all and maybe don’t enjoy them as much as you would like.
I am a deep believer in balance and not restriction. It is completely possible to enjoy the holidays and the treats that go with the season without either 1) going on a strict vegan diet and losing your mind because you aren’t having sugar or 2) continuously eating unhealthy and regretting most of your decisions to just have one more taste of something decadent.
No matter what time of the year, I typically follow these guidelines for enjoying treats:
- Plan them. It is something to look forward to because you know you do have a special treat to enjoy in the future.
- Make them really good. Don’t waste the calories on something average tasting or, even worse, below average.
It is usually the unplanned or the mediocre tasting treats that cause the extra pounds.
My three guidelines for hosting and/or going to gatherings are:
- Eat something healthy beforehand.
- Attend more full so you might eat less at the gathering.Make and take something healthy. You know you will have something healthy to eat.
- Stay away from the chips and dessert table. Those are my weakest spots.
All The Holiday “Buts”
The above suggestions sound like great ideas and most people agree they should eat less, but then come the “buts”…. Those “buts” are all the holiday challenges that make it seem impossible to maintain good eating.
Now here is my “but” back…
But what if you could control your habits over the holidays so you:
- feel healthy
- have more energy,
- feel better dressed up,
- don’t regret your poor eating or drinking choices the next day,
- enjoy the holidays more,
- feel better about going into the New Year,
- and don’t gain 5-10 pounds?
It is totally possible in a simple way and all the details are in our article How to Enjoy But Not Overindulge During the Holidays.
If you want some support and guidance this holiday season for staying on track with your healthy eating, join 7Core Wellness’s FREE Enjoy But Not Overindulge Holiday Challenge that starts the week of Thanksgiving.
Get details and sign up here. This holiday challenge is not about restriction but balance.
To a happy, healthy holiday time!
Jen is a certified nutrition coach and master personal trainer with a specialty in corrective exercise. She owns 7Core Wellness, where she strives to empower individuals to live better, move better, and become their strongest self.
Jen created the Warrior Approach and the Warrior Approach Guidebook, which introduces a simple system to plan and prep your way to a healthier life by creating sustainable, healthy habits. As a former Special Operations spouse and registered nurse, Jen understands the demands placed on the family and the challenges they pose to well-being. She is passionate about helping families find balance through self-care in an achievable and sustainable way by simplifying how to eat right and move more.