Originally Published November 26, 2014
Ah, that special time of year…. where the average American gains one pound–but frets like it’s so much more!
Well, there’s a lot of goodies around! Gaining a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is not necessarily a big deal, in my opinion. Especially since most people lose it naturally anyway, given that they don’t continue eating Holiday-Style all year.
However, rather than be relaxed and know they’ll probably not gain much, and then lose anything they gain anyway, many people notice the weight gain, go into apocalyptic shock, and grab the first weirdo diet book off the shelf come January 2nd. Through stress and strain they either lose or don’t lose weight. Many people weigh more after going off a diet than they did before starting the diet, after all.
What’s sad to me is the incredible, tremendous stress around the whole situation!
We start thinking about food as Thanksgiving approaches. We eat a bunch and then start thinking about the calories. Then, to celebrate another 1-day holiday, we are surrounded by tempting red and green treats for the next 4 weeks.
You’re thinking, “I really don’t need a green-sugar-sprinkled sugar cookie…” and someone says, “Relax! It’s the holidays!!” as if we are SO uptight for not indulging several times a day.
Once we’ve had too much, for long enough, then it’s, “oh to hell with it!” and we just pull off the brakes completely and grab whatever’s around. Still feeling crazy guilty about it though!
We indulge, stress, indulge, stress, indulge, stress until we just want New Years’ to get here so we can get the whole eating thing OVER WITH and go back to our normal food-life!
I have a different idea. Let’s just break it down here and prevent some of this misery and madness before it starts! Let’s decide in advance how to handle season of indulgence before .
Here are three options for handling The Month of Temptation. Just suggestions, of course! If you have a better idea, by all means implement it.
These are placed in order of strictness. Don’t worry, there’s something for everyone. You decide. Take into account what is realistic for YOU. Then, simply stick to it–because you love yourself, and because it’s ultimately easier than doing nothing!
Option 1: Official Holidays Only
To state the obvious, if we over-ate only on the actual holidays themselves, there would be virtually nothing to worry about in terms of health or weight! The problem comes from treating every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as a holiday in itself.
The holiday office party is not a holiday. The kids’ holiday party is not a holiday. Your friends’ holiday cocktail party is not a holiday. Every-day-at-the-office-where-people-bring-a-bunch-of-junk-food-into-the-break-room is not a holiday.
You do not need to “celebrate” a holiday by giving in to whatever comes your way, or by cooking treats all month long.
Instead, make the commitment in advance you will eat whatever you want on Thanksgiving and 1-2 other days. When those pre-selected days come, have at it, have fun, and no guilt allowed!
This option is good for those who either aren’t as tempted during this time or who know they can be fairly disciplined. For some, this may be too strict and result in giving up, so be honest with what’s realistic for you. Also, if this really does take the fun out of the holiday season for you, be honest and take that into consideration!
Option 2: Party it Up!
Middle path is this: If it’s an occasion, indulgence allowed. Parties, functions, get-togethers, all ok. Mostly on the weekends between (and including) Thanksgiving and New Years’, but a few other activities sprinkled in on some weeknights as well. If people are getting together, let’s have some treats and drinks! Happy Holidays!
But no-no’s are snacking all day at your desk, bringing extra treats home from the store, or baking up a storm at home for no particular reason other than “getting in the spirit.”
Option 3: LIVE it Up!
Let go and just have fun–but without the guilt OR the diet. If you’re a person who just loves to celebrate every day, loves the winter holiday season, and just has to live it up, then do it!
Enjoy the drinks and the treats–BUT this option is only allowed for those who can do so without beating themselves up about it and then punishing themselves later with a diet! Why? Because guilt is just as detrimental, painful, and unhealthy as the cookies and cake. Not to mention diets which are silly at best, and seriously damaging to one’s health at worst. Whose body wants to deal with the yo-yo of too much food one month and then not enough food with probably bizarre eating activity the next?
On the one hand, this option seems to require less discipline. However, if you are a person in the habit of criticizing yourself, especially about how you eat, this could be the hardest. It may actually be easier to take option 1 or 2 because they will probably make this type of person feel less guilty naturally.
Of course, my first recommendation is not to be harsh with yourself to begin with, but that’s a habit that usually takes time to cultivate, and Thanksgiving is around the corner…
Look, the first priority here is being as kind to ourselves as possible. That’s what all these choices are about–so you can see a way to be kind to yourself. Kinder to your body by not dieting and kinder to your soul by not beating yourself up. Just find a way to do that!
And really, if you cannot control either the foods you choose to eat or the way you talk to yourself and treat yourself, give yourself even more love by talking to someone who can help.
By the way, these are only suggestions for those of us who don’t like the over-indulgence/guilt/panic/fad diet roller coaster that so many go through each year. If you don’t deal with this either by gaining weight, harming your health, feeling guilty, or over-indulging in the first place, then no need to adopt anything here–and more power to you!
Good luck, and Happy Healthy Holidays