(This is from a post I wrote for my favorite site Blisstree)
Yesterday I was reading a blog that referred to the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas as “The Eating Season.” I hadn’t heard this specific phrase before, but in my line of work, I certainly can’t escape talk of festive foods and highly caloric holiday treats during this time of year. Clients are fearful that they’ll indulge and backslide, and the media is full of strategies and tips (some coming from yours truly) to allegedly improve habits and quell this fear. I say “allegedly,” because I often feel like all this treat-talk and holiday help may be doing more harm than good.
I would argue that there are multiple “eating seasons.” This month we’re thinking latkes, Christmas cookies, and chocolate Santas, but pretty soon it’s chocolates for Valentine’s Day, macaroons for Passover, candy on Easter, and — before you know it — time for some hot dogs and at least a few margaritas. So there’s actually no one time of year to fear, no Christmas conspiracy, just some holiday foods and parties to navigate just as you do other food-centric celebrations, so take a deep breath.
Pick your Pleasure
When I suggest navigating seasonal selections, I’m met with questions like the one Blisstree’s Christine Egan posited: “Can we discipline ourselves to not succumb to all those holiday food triggers, without feeling like we’re totally depriving ourselves of any and all holiday fun?”
My answer? If this season being an edible minefield is the first eating exaggeration, then the idea that budgeting has to be boring is the second. As adults, most of us are adept at impulse control. If not, I would’ve slept until 10 a.m. this morning (not 5 a.m.), skipped my workout, and grabbed a corn muffin on my way to work in my PJs (if I went to work at all). While my reality couldn’t be more different, I don’t feel deprived. And sure, there are always plenty of holiday food triggers, but availability doesn’t necessarily need to lead to indulgence. If that were true, I would’ve had cheese 20 times on my way to the office in addition to the corn muffin. So pick your pleasure.
I am someone who can live without a latke so with Hanukkah celebrations this past week I was fine to forego lotsa latkes. On Christmas Eve, on the other hand, I would gladly skip dinner or presents or Santa versus eschewing my brother-in-law’s homemade egg nog (spiked, of course). What are the holiday foods and beverages you think you cannot live without? I’ll grant you those, but you need to know the foods (other than fruitcake) that you can pass up. But this isn’t black-and-white situation; you don’t need to join the gleeful gluttons or the meager eaters.
Where there’s celebratory there should be Spartan
Finally, I’d like you to think of December 22 or December 28. These days aren’t Hanukkah or Christman or Kwanzaa. You’re not likely to attend a holiday party or gathering every single day. There are many days during the “eating season” that are “regular” December days. Keep these days slightly Spartan. Skip the sweets and the carbs and work out for an hour. If you implement a couple of these days per week, you’ll balance out that egg nog and won’t get mistaken for Santa Claus (okay, maybe make that a 90 minute workout).
What are your favorite holiday foods? What is your method for monitoring them?