You DON’T Need To Stay Healthy During “The Holidays”
I intended to write a post with ideas for staying healthy during “the holidays” and kind of did… but in a different way than I expected. There is a popular idea that we need to adhere to certain “rules” around the holidays to stay “healthy” and “be good” etc, whatever that means. I hope to inspire some of you reading to maybe look from another perspective, particularly those who may self-shame for indulging during certain times when the “good” thing to do is stay strict….
If you are a die hard stick to the diet person, even against all odds (like holiday temptations) then great for you! If this is a habit or choice that serves you and you feel like you are doing the best thing for your overall health, I support that 100%. Maybe you are one who is just planning to remain with your already healthy lifestyle, keep it “80/20” or rigidly stick to a modified set of guidelines for your needs. Heck, maybe you are planning to actually start a healthier or stricter lifestyle and diet during the holidays… that takes some dedication and willpower, without a doubt. These are all things that I see a lot of around this time of the year particularly. As always I am glad to see encouragement and opportunity toward a healthier lifestyle and diet but have to question the necessity of this idea and culture of staying healthy during the holidays.
Here is where I get a little confused… Why is this such a hyped up and popular concern during these holidays only? Why are we so worried about eating more “problematic” foods and having such greater temptations during certain (namely winter) holidays? We should probably consider the fact that staying healthy through any season is equally important and potentially just as difficult, popular pressures aside. There doesn’t need to be an additional burden of “staying healthy” during the holidays if you think about it. Personally, I think this matter is one which can be solved by a very simple change of a person’s own perspective.
The Holiday Season Is Not The Problem
It really irks me to see people blaming the “holiday season” for temptations being more present, their diet fails, weight gain or unhealthy choices. Equally upsetting is people blaming/shaming themselves and attributing their lack of control to the fact that they are “bad” people. You are not a bad person for eating food! Even eating more food or different food than considered “healthy” and I am mostly referring to particularly winter holidays in the USA. Eating and spending time with family during these times is what the holidays tend to be centered around. These are great things and we should not be ashamed or upset with ourselves for partaking, even if you do overindulge. I am sure it is not the only time in the whole year that most have overindulged, one way or another.
If you think about it, holidays and opportunity for unhealthy choices are year round, regardless of whether or not you are acknowledging or celebrating something. Honestly, depending on your associations, most of these events include situations where unhealthy food would be present and available. Around many parts of the US it is popular to kick off with New Years Parties. Next we have Valentine’s Day in February, which notoriously can mean buying/receiving, likely being tempted by and even eating sweets. In March there is St Patty’s Day, which some people may not “celebrate” but this can also be a time for similar temptations. Next we have April, where Easter comes in and usually will mean a rich dinner of some sort and of course…. temptations from sweets like Easter candy. May has Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. June we have Father’s Day, July Independence Day (in the USA), August and September are prime times in a lot of places to be going on vacations and having potlucks or cookouts. Of course we have Halloween in October, right before getting into “The Holiday Season.” All off this is off the top of my head, there are many more holidays I am not familiar with, I know that a lot of you tune in from different areas of the world and we all have different backgrounds which mean countless occasions and holidays to note.
Let’s also remember there are always the potential dinners and meals out at restaurants, birthday parties, work or other celebrations, free treats, Girl Scout Cookies being sold, candy bar fundraisers, bake sales, impulse buys, gift baskets, PIZZA, candy staring at you on your grocery trip… YOU GUYS! I honestly am done being worried about “staying healthy” during the holiday seasons! We are in a CONSTANT state of opportunity for sooo many unhealthy temptations, even if you don’t celebrate USA holidays or any holidays at all. Many of us live among temptations daily and for some reason, the “holidays” are a time for people to worry about their health and physique in a very different way than other occasions.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life… and Eat Some Treats!
If we are able to change from the mindset we need to try so hard to stay healthy during the “holiday season” maybe that will help some. If you have also fallen into the trap of being worried about being healthy during the holidays, change to a new and in my opinion, healthier mindset. Your diet choices don’t define your character, you are not a bad person because you ate a holiday meal! Eating a hearty overindulgent meal on a holiday notorious for them is not going to be the end of your success, nor does it require you to frantically search for a magic bullet to fix yourself. It is also crucial to acknowledge the fact that we also aren’t “bad” for ordering dessert after an already unhealthy dinner out, or having a couple pieces of candy or pizza once in a while. Balancing a healthy general lifestyle with occasional guilt-free splurges is a much more attainable way of living long term for many people.
If your day-to-day is full of constant unhealthy habits like overeating junk food and you feel stuck in the cycle of this, I love to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Please contact me so we can chat and discuss what kinds of things would help you, if it is not something I can directly help with, I can likely connect you with someone who can! If you would like, feel free to download my free guide to getting on the right track to a healthier lifestyle. Once you are on track to maintaining a healthy balance in your life, you will find that indulging in moderation throughout the year may be less stressful for you. In conjunction with a more mindful approach to your choices in general, you can own your decisions without regret and that is a great feeling!
Constantly reminding oneself to continue with a healthy attitude can lead to more control and acceptance of all of our actions long term and day-to-day. This is not a one time fix for many people, myself included. I regularly remind myself to continue having healthy and mindful thoughts about my choices in life and it is something to practice daily for most. If I slip up and eat something mindlessly and end up not feeling well, that is a natural consequence in itself. Otherwise, I am very well into my routine of not having negative associations with food choices and balancing healthy food with treats. Sometimes I do still feel like I made a “bad” decision and start to regret it. In that case I may reflect, check myself on the reasoning behind the decision and the negative feelings associated, then move on positively. With diligent total body and mind care, better overall health can then follow.
The mind is a very powerful and important part of a person’s health. If you have a mindset of feeling guilt or punishing yourself for “slipping up” on your diet, you may be causing more harm than you know. I wrote an article which goes into the topic of stressing about what you eat, in regards to my personal experience and opinion. You can find it on The Liminal Network to read more in depth. Personally, removing the stress and fear around indulging in treats and junk food has dramatically changed my well being. Over-restricting yourself if it causes you to become stressed is not the only way (or a very effective way) to be healthy.
If you have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods, by all means use your judgement to stay within a range of parameters which feels comfortable for you. During my times of severe restriction, I’d shown sensitivity to certain foods and was advised by my doctor to avoid them. That restriction was cause for feeling the need to indulge in things which I’d had no confirmed issues with but knew to be less healthy. Once per week on average I ate a homemade or purchased treat within safe guidelines of my restrictions. This was one way to feel like I had not been kept from indulging at all since I’d avoided every “temptation” throughout my day-to-day. It worked for me during that time and I have now gotten to the point of knowing my limitations with indulging. I am all about treating oneself, and am in no way advocating for a hard and fast “NO excuses” approach to bending diet “rules” as I find it to be unhealthy to be so obsessed with diet rules… As you may have guessed, I used to be a somewhat rigid and biased diet rule obsessed person!
There Is No Perfect Diet! Find Your Diet…
A few good friends of mine are vegetarian/sometimes vegan and during my rigidly paleo days we spent a lot of time together. It was a wake up call when I realized that by holding the opinions I had on the perfect diet, I had adopted a closed-minded attitude in that regard. I am not a fan of intolerance in general and was humbled to realize I had been displaying these values with my very opinionated dietary beliefs. I feel that close-minded attitudes with anything in life, are almost always unhealthy. If you didn’t know, there are many ways to do the “same” thing, your way is NOT the only way! What works for one may never work for another. If you are 100% convinced that one certain set of dietary rules is a good fit for every person, maybe take a step back and realize that every person is not you, your chosen diet is not right for every person on this earth, even if there is research to back it.
You can essentially find scientific research supporting nearly anything these days and also research to “debunk” the same thing that another study has proven! I have found research to support a number of different diets and tried more than I can count! Advocating for a healthier lifestyle is one thing, research aside. I feel that dogmatically insisting or otherwise trying to “sell” another person on a certain diet because it works for you and “everyone else” is silly. Not every body needs the same amount or types of foods that another might. I do applaud those who I see sharing their journey of eating and living healthier through the discovery and practice that works for them. With some trial and error as well as listening to your body with different ways of eating you can find what works for you and follow that path. Don’t forget to treat yourself once in awhile and be mindful of self control and balance throughout the year.