Happiness

Indulging During the Holidays Without it Spiraling Out of Control

Happy December! Hard to believe! For the next 10 weeks, my lovely blog friend (and real-life friend) Leslie Ann of LAQ Fitness and I will be hosting an “Eat, Drink, & Be Merry” blogging festivus, where we’ll share our special holiday blog workouts, recipes and tips for enjoying a healthiest, happiness holiday season yet. And you’re not going to hear either one of us say to not eat sweets or enjoy some spiced wine. 🙂

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One of the things that has always frustrated me during the holidays is when people vow not to gain the festive 7 pounds or when they vow to stick to a strict diet. What fun is that?! I don’t believe in following strict diet rules any time of the year, but especially not during the holidays when there are parties. Of course, there are food restrictions and allergies (and I know firsthand how frustrating those are), but restricting calories and being mean to your body and mind–especially during the holidays–is pressure no one needs or deserves. 

I also know how easy it can be to let the holiday fun spiral into one long month of unhealthy eating and drinking as the parties fill your calendar and sweets fill your kitchen.  You go to one party, try one tasty little finger food,  one tasty little cocktail, and the next thing you know, you’ve eaten alllll the tasty food and tried allllll the tasty cocktails. Then, you rinse, repeat, regret, and do it again at the next holiday party (the next night) or eat all the cookies that your coworker brought or all the homemade chocolate truffles your neighbor brings you. So, how do you prevent this from happening? Here’s how I enjoy holiday, without over-thinking it and without over-indulging. 

1. Work out — hard — and do it in the mornings if you can. When I get in a solid workout, my food and drink choices are better throughout the day. And it’s not just the “I don’t want to undo this” mindset. I find I really don’t crave junk food as much as days when I have a great work out. I think there is a chemical/science component to this. (Leslie Ann may blog about this in her post since she has studied more of the science behind weight loss than I have!)

2. Eat before a party. If you have dietary restrictions, eat basically a full meal, unless the host has reached out to you about your dietary needs and is specifically accommodating you. I hate being a nuisance at parties and never want to draw attention to what I can and can’t eat, so this allows me just to eat lightly or graze on the food without going hungry. If you don’t have dietary restrictions, make sure you don’t starve yourself all day to “save up” for the party. (I heard a lot of people on Thanksgiving basically say/tweet this – “I haven’t eaten all day to save my calories for dinner!”) You’ll just overeat (probably by a lot) because you’ll be so hungry. Eat like you normally would (or a bit healthier if you can!). I like to eat extra protein and fats leading up to indulging events so I’m not as tempted by ALL.THE.FOOD as I would be if I’m starving. 

3. Set a cap on the number of drinks you’ll have — before you arrive. I generally only have one drink on “regular” nights (weekends, going out, etc.). But for parties, I usually want to indulge a little more. Depending on the time of the party and other circumstances, I’ll set a limit of 2 or 3 drinks and decide on it before I get to the party rather than playing it by ear. You can talk yourself into drinks much more easily after you’ve had a drink. Tell a friend, if you can, to help you stay accountable. 

4. Alternate drinks with water. Before I even pick up my second drink, I make sure to drink a large glass of water. This helps me keep me hydrated so I’m not drinking out of thirst. I also find it helps me feel better the next day.

5. Be a foodie! If it’s a party with small plates or lots of dishes and desserts to taste, eat what you want and enjoy. And pass on what you don’t. And if you try something, and it’s not great, you don’t have finish it. There is no pleasure in eating mediocre food, and food should be enjoyable! So if you find stuff you like, eat up! Eat more than you normally would if you want! But just pass on the stuff that isn’t your favorite. 

What are your tips? How do you prevent the holidays from spiraling into too much unhealthiness while still enjoying yourself?

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors
    at

    love the tip to decide on number of drinks ahead of time! I’m talked myself into way to many extra drinks and looked terrible the next day from lack of fluids.

  • Reply
    Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out
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    Great tips! It’s so easy to let the holiday season get away from you, but with a little help, it’s not too hard to enjoy the season and stay on track!

  • Reply
    Michelle @ Fit. Flexible. Fabulous.
    at

    I really like your last tip…and I think it’s been my saving grace for quite some time. I recently admitted to a friend of mine that I am a food snob…and proud of it! I’ll always indulge with a good glass of wine and some rich chocolate dessert b/c I balance it with a plate of veggies or limit the portion size on a meal served at a restaurant.

    Mindfulness is so important when it comes to making healthy decisions and splurging every now and then. I try my best to avoid “food amnesia” (i.e. when you splurge later in the day and you’ve already forgotten you splurged at lunch), and I try my best to be aware of what I’m eating, how it tastes, etc. It’s easy for people to get distracted at holiday parties and not pay attention to what they’re consuming.

    We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and respect our bodies enough to care what we put in them 🙂

    • Reply
      Teri [a foodie stays fit]
      at

      I love your comment about food amnesia! I totally suffer from this sometimes.

      And so well said!! –> “We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and respect our bodies enough to care what we put in them :-)”

  • Reply
    Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
    at

    Great tips! I definitely agree that mediocre food isn’t worth it. My strategy is to try and eat as healthy as possible during the week if I know I’m going to indulge at a weekend event. Load up on veggies, fresh fruit, and good proteins… and then don’t stress too much about what I’m eating at parties since I know I already did some good prep!

  • Reply
    Kay @ goaloflosing.com
    at

    Love the tips! We’re all decorated for Christmas and we have our first Christmas Party this Saturday. Couldn’t be more excited for this Holiday season!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah
    at

    The thing that helps me the most is working out in the morning. It works both ways: if I indulged a little the night before, it’s a great way to start off the next day or if I know I am going to a party that evening, I like to start the day with healthy choices so I’m more likely to continue making them throughout the day.

  • Reply
    Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
    at

    Great tips! You are so right about mediocre food—not worth the calories! Eating throughout the day before parties or holidays helps me not over-eat, as does exercising that morning. Hard exercise makes me have less of an appetite!

    • Reply
      Teri [a foodie stays fit]
      at

      It’s so counterintuitive how hard workouts (especially intervals) decrease my appetite but it happens! Glad to hear I’m not the only one. It could also be that I’m more conscious of having a really good, balance post-run meal that sets me up for success the rest of the day!

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