Avoiding the Holiday 15

It's the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year. Not only do the holidays mean that we will be spending time with the people who are nearest and dearest to us, but we will be surrounded by fantastic food. All of the time.

I remember from Thanksgiving on during high school, my family would have cookies in the house from all the various cookie swaps my mom attended, plus the cookies my grandma would drop off. Of course, they were never just regular chocolate chip cookies. They were fancy seasonal delights that would intrigue even the weakest of sweettooths.

As I learned last year, it's no different at college. For the two weeks leading up to finals, almost every event has hot chocolate, cookies, candy canes, and any other holiday treats you can think of. However, this is only the period leading up to the holidays.

Then, there's Christmas Eve itself, where your family’s infamous cheesy potatoes appear. There is miscommunication between your aunts, so everyone brings a dessert instead of just a few people. Then, there’s Christmas Day. Then there’s New Years. And if you’re like me, maybe even a birthday will  be sprinkled somewhere in between, or at least a celebratory get together with all your friends from high school that of course involves your favorite local restaurant.

There is a lot of high quality food that goes above and beyond anything South or North will ever serve you (sorry, Christmas dinner and your delicious cinnamon buns). Mentally, this can be overwhelming for some and the days following the holidays can be full of guilt and anxiety.

But not for you, dear reader! This holiday season don't let the idea of all the food stress you out and don't fear that all your hard work will go to waste. I’m here to say, it’s okay! Here are some tips to help you skip the stress this season:

First and foremost: don't stop moving.

Yes, we are on break and a few days off from working out is never a bad idea, but do not let yourself fall off the grid completely. It's so hard to get back up.

Many times, when I sit around all day watching the TV I haven't watched during the semester, it's even harder to get off the couch and workout. This is exactly when you should go workout. Acting like a slug will only further propel you into slugdom. Working out will give you your energy back,  you will feel better about your body, and you will feel healthier. Change it up, grab your friends from high school, and go on a hike!

My extended family always has a post Christmas dinner walk which is really nice to get out and feel fresh air as well as see all the Christmas decorations in the neighborhood. It’s simple, but you’re moving and giving your digestive system a little help to get rid of your nice food baby that rivals Santa’s bowl full of jelly.

Working out will not only leave a little extra room for that really good peppermint bark, but it will keep you from feeling more sluggish. Note: please please please do not use working out excessively to make up for eating more; this is not healthy, workout your normal amount, then just enjoy your holiday food.

Get on that Turkey Trot

Second: Do not deprive yourself. Fasting leading up to those big meals is not a good idea. I am a believer in accepting your cravings. Again, eat normally around the holidays; dieting and fasting will end badly.

We're only human! When we are unhealthy and deprive ourselves of nutrition, it only leads to more stress and anxiety.We fall off the wagon and, usually fall off hard, which will lead to more guilt. So, do what you would normally do!

This does not need to be you

Third: Just do you this holiday season. If you don’t want to eat those special family rolls, then don’t! And don’t let your uncle give you hard time for it. Your health is your health.

However, at the same time, this is can be a time to splurge a little and by all means go for seconds. If you fast before your holiday meal, your splurge will be on the extreme end of the spectrum. Whereas if your eating habits had remained relatively normal, splurging would also be at a more “normal” level.

Somehow at Christmas last year, my cousins and I ate so much dessert (because there were probably a million different kinds of desserts) that we all actually ended up lying on the floor. Our stomachs hurt so badly! I must say I have learned from this experience and now understand the concept of moderation.

That being said, it's the holidays! You only get to eat chocolate peanut butter oreo fudge truffles once a year, so eat them (don’t eat so many you end up on the floor because then you probably will never want to eat them again.). Eat those special foods, put what YOU want on your plate.

I will advise though, do not put something on your plate just because it’s there. For example, if you see the pasta that is put out just for those picky younger cousins, I would skip it. Save room for the other delicacies that will come your way.

The holiday season is about being together, remembering your blessings, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and reflecting on a year past and a year to come. The delicious food is just a bonus. Remember that should not stress you out or make you feel guilty. Feasting is a tradition that has existed forever. Humans have always feasted to celebrate therefore it is okay for you to feast too! We have taste buds to enjoy what we put into our bodies, so indulge your taste buds a little, and don’t beat yourself up this holiday season.

Remember what the holidays are really about and breathe

Sparknotes version: eat normally exercise normally, moderate as you see fit, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Don’t forget to love yourself” -Soren Kierkegaard


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Image 12, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 provided by author