Thoughts on Having a Healthy Holiday

I don't know about you, but I get a little tired of all of the articles about how to get through the holidays without "blowing your diet" or gaining a bunch of weight.  It seems to me that we may be over thinking it a bit.  There are parties other times of the year, after all, and just because it is the holiday season, which inevitably involves a lot of baking, doesn't mean that everyone is defenseless against an urge to double their calorie intake.



Granted, if you are actively trying to lose weight, then most likely there is some degree of hunger, or at least a lack of fullness, that makes being surrounded by tempting treats especially hard.  And for that, yes, a few strategies to make it easier are great.  They are rather obvious, but they bear repeating: stay away from the food table and socialize with friends instead; make a conscious choice to only eat your one favorite treat; avoid alcohol or go for healthier choices such as wine over sugary mixed drinks, if there won't be healthy options at the party don't show up hungry; and of course eat mindfully.

Those are honest and intelligent tips, and they technically apply to anyone for whom the holidays pose a challenge.  

My point, though, since there are plenty of articles out there that mention those tips and others is that maybe we are imposing a problem upon people for whom they don't actually need to be worried about holiday eating.  I don't like the implication that everyone innately has a desire to consume way more energy than they are expending at holiday time and that this is an urge that must be fought!

I don't think that mentality is empowering to people.  I also think that, for many, it sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

What if we didn't tell people that they are going to have a strong desire to eat the entire pie and that they must arm themselves with strategies to fight the good fight? Would people be able to naturally eat mindfully? Would people not feel like they want to eat all of the treats instead of just one or two of their favorites if we don't tell them they will want to eat everything? What about the implication that this is a special time of the year where eating habits always change- which could mean "take advantage of the crazy foods before they're gone!" or "eat until you're sick, that's the point!"  Or, and this a controversial one: what if it didn't seem completely horrific to gain a couple pounds in the winter and lose them in the warmer months?  There is still a lot of research to be done in this area, but maybe we naturally have slightly larger appetites in the winter and smaller appetites in the summer and being the exact same weight year round isn't important.

I don't actually have the answers to these questions, most likely because it doesn't apply the same to everyone.  We are all different, unique individuals for whom there is no one right diet that fits everyone.  That includes the holidays. There probably are some people for whom the holidays do entice them to eat a lot more, and it is partially due to societal influence.  Not everyone, but some.  Since that is a less discussed topic, I'd like to offer a new perspective for the good of those people: chill out and just enjoy the holidays.



Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.