The Holiday season is officially upon us. This is a time of celebration and being with family but it's also a time of stress and often neglect to our health. Today I want to expand on what we talked about with emotional eating and look at what that means during the long stretch of Halloween through Valentines day.
The holidays can be hard for a lot of people. Dealing with family, friends, work, and all the good, but also all the stress that can come with them. A lot of people tend to gain weight over this time but that has nothing to do with traditional holiday food. If you think about it, while traditional holiday fare may be a little richer, maybe a little higher in fats and sugars, they are for the most part homemade, whole foods, and are eaten one or two days out of the year. Even if you attend every holiday party you can find, you would at most be having one or two extra rich “cheat” meals a week.
So why are you gaining that winter weight? Two reasons: One, you fall off whatever program you're on. For some reason or another you can't find time to make it to the gym or take a walk and become totally sedentary. And two, you start stress eating junk food and calling it a holiday treat.
Now while one big rich meal is not going to make you gain weight, grabbing that Christmas tree shaped cookie every time you're in the grocery store for two months will. So how do you know if the holiday food is good for you or you're just stress eating? Here here are a few Superhero rules to check with.
A) If the food is made by you from scratch (or as scratch as your cooking abilities allow).
B) If the food is made specifically for you by someone that cares about you, or that you care about.
C) You are eating it with friends or family, without the aid of a tv.
Then you should enjoy and eat whatever it is without stress or feeling guilty. If it does not fall into one of these categories then maybe you should rethink it. To help give you an idea of healthy and unhealthy emotions towards holiday food, I'm going to run through a few scenarios for you.
Eggnog is one of your favorite things about winter and you can't wait until it comes out.
Unhealthy: You buy a carton of it a week, and drink two or three glasses a night by yourself in front of the TV.
Healthy: You grab a few friends and talk them into going ice skating or having a snowman building contest (If you get snow over the holiday season). Afterwards, you warm up with an eggnog latte from a coffee shop near by.
Every year you have to go to your spouses office holiday party. You hate everyone they work with and since it is always an open bar, they tend to get extra douchy at this event.
Unhealthy: Stress about going and bicker with your spouse about it, once there you hit the bar a little too hard and are not even sure how much you ate at the buffet. You feel awful but it was the only way you knew how to get through an otherwise awful night.
Healthy: You make a fresh yummy dinner at home for you and your spouse before hand. During dinner you discuses a battle plan of how your going to present a united front and make up signals for when one of you needs out of an awkward situation. You arrive fashionably late, have one drink and make the rounds at the party. While it's not your favorite night you get through it and maybe even have a few funny stories to share.
One of your co-workers keeps bringing holiday themed cookies to work. Every time you pass the break room you have the urge to grab a few.
Unhealthy: You sneak a cookie or three, or four, eat it at your desk and immediately feel guilty and bad about yourself.
Healthy: Over the weekend you call your mom and ask her for your favorite cookie recipe from childhood. Then you spend the weekend baking and enjoying the holiday season.
It's Thanksgiving dinner and once again your aunt has brought her overly surgery jello and marshmallow madness that she insists on calling a salad, even though it's never touched a vegetable, and tastes like hospital food.
Unhealthy: You pass on your aunts dish, actually you pass on most of the food. You even tell those who will listen about how awesome your new diet is, like you've found a new religion, as you pick at your single piece of white turkey meat,
Healthy: You eat the fucking salad! Because you realize there is no amount of calories that adds up to time with family and your aunt put a lot of love and care into that awful awful salad. The least you can do is eat some of the damn thing.
So you may or may not have noticed, but in most of these scenarios the healthy and unhealthy option both included eating some version of the “bad” food. The thing is it's not always the macro count or cleanness of the food, but how we approach it. It can take a lot of self-awareness and discipline but if you began to change how you look at food it will greatly improve you quality of life.
So that's my challenge to you this holiday season. When approaching food (especially holiday themed items) stop and think about if it follows those rules. Was it made by you? Was it made for you? Are you eating with loved ones? Also, don't forget to move. It's so easy to just want to hibernate in this dark and cold time, but moving just a little bit will make you feel so much better, promise. If you have more questions please reach out, we are always here. Comment below or feel free to email or call us and follow us on social media. I hope you have a happy and blessed winter season.