Enjoy Your Holidays Without the Guilt

If I had a dollar for every “healthy holiday-eating hacks” blog post and magazine article I come across around this time of year, I’d be a rich woman. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these; heck, I even find some good advice I wouldn’t have thought of from time to time. But, when it comes to my own clients— who are about to abandon me for their week-long holiday vacation and are canceling sessions for Christmas party hangovers (sigh…)— I probably won’t be sharing too many “hacks” with them when it comes to eating…

To me, being a healthy, well-balanced human from the inside out starts with having a healthy mind. If my mind is consumed with all the things I can’t enjoy at a party and how much weight I’m going to gain if I eat that cookie, then I’m truly not living. Not only that, but I’m triggering that stress response that I’ve talked about in previous posts, which will only slow down my digestion as well as wreak havoc on my adrenals and immune system. There are things I (almost) refuse to eat just because I have a sensitive stomach and know how they are going to make me feel, but other than that I’ll probably eat the dang sugar cookie and have a mug of hot cocoa to go with it.

I guess the issue I have with articles like those I previously mentioned is the fact that we are constantly pounding into people’s heads this idea that eating a certain way is “good” or “bad.” Well, I’ll tell ya what’s really not “good” is associating eating with the feeling of guilt. There is no denying that certain foods will help our bodies, while others will hurt our bodies, and we should always be wanting to fuel and nourish ourselves to the best of our ability.

That being said, part of nourishment is psychological. And, if you honestly think I’m going to pass up my mom’s homemade Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies when I go home for Christmas because they’re “bad” and will probably make me retain some water and temporarily gain a couple pounds, then you’re from another planet. One unhealthy meal every now and then will not destroy your efforts. On the contrary, it may even help you to stay “on track” with your healthy eating habits by giving you a break from the monotony, preventing binging and rebooting your metabolism.[1]

So, this holiday season I have 5 tips for you to enjoy yourself without any guilt attached to it:

1. Begin the journey to loving yourself— fiercely and unconditionally. No weight, pants size, or mile time should change how you feel about yourself.

2. Remind yourself that Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years comes around once a year. Give yourself permission to enjoy every minute of it with loved ones.

3. Find a few healthy seasonal recipes to try out this year and bring to parties/get-togethers. This way, you can make sure to still get some nourishment in between all the noshing.

4. Try to stick to your normal exercise and eating routine as much as possible. On vacation, that’s obviously a lot easier said than done, so make it a goal to at least move in some way every day, and get that fresh produce in.

And finally,

5. Remove the terms “good” and “bad” from your vocabulary and train your mind to see food as food. See food as a way to celebrate, to explore, and to feed not only your body but your soul.

I know, I know, easier said than done, right? In our adult lives especially, we’ve been trained to be ashamed of ourselves for any sort of indulging. Remember being an innocent child who ate when we were hungry and indulged in whatever our heart desired without fear of any of it going straight to our thighs?

Yes, unfortunately our bodies are different now, and if I ate too many homemade cookies they certainly could go “straight to my thighs” (that’s not actually how it works), but the cliche statement “everything in moderation” rings so true here. Try these tips out and attempt to abandon any current ideology you have about “good” vs. “bad” food, at least just for the next few weeks. Who knows, maybe you’ll see a whole new side to guilt-free eating that you forgot was there!

What healthy seasonal recipes do you enjoy most?
Share your comments and favorite recipes at the bottom of the page.

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