What is it about the holiday season that makes people decide to go on strict diets?
I’m not okay with this.
Listen, I understand wanting to be fit and lean for races (or just fitting into my jeans in my case), but can we all just loosen up our rules—and maybe our belts—a little?
This time of year sugary treats get put on a pedestal (cookie stand, typically), which can be challenging if you are trying to get healthier and fitter. However, it’s been my experience that making certain foods off-limits does more harm than good.
I actually don’t cut out any foods during the entire year except for those I am allergic to or just hate—I’m lookin’ at you, olives. I’m just a big believer in eating moderately.
I like eating this because when I eliminate certain foods, it puts me in an all-or-nothing mindset. Then, when I do see that particular food, my brain goes, “OMG! I may never be able to have an Oreo again. Must. Eat. Whole. Bag. Now.” And that’s not how a modern first-world country with 24-hour grocery stores and food delivery services work. We can basically get any food we want at any time.
Of course, there are specific holiday treats you can’t always get 365 days a year—unless you want to call your grandmother in July and ask her to whip up her famous Christmas trifle that takes sixteen hours to make. (I dare you to try that—actually, she’d probably do it. Grandmas are the nicest.) This festive season, though, is the time of year where moderate eating really comes in handy. I just try to relax a little, have a cookie, and go on with my life.
Here’s what I don’t do: starve myself all day before the office party and then inhale an entire plate of snickerdoodles. That’s not moderation. Eat your healthy meals throughout the day—lots of veggies, an appropriate amount of protein, and a little starch/carb—then, enjoy a shortbread or two.
Obviously, I don’t want to undo my progress completely, but I also give myself a break in December. The body needs rest from staying lean all year (or trying to anyway) and/or constantly losing weight. Adding a few pounds has actually helped me break through a plateau before. (Obviously, sugar is not really how you want to add pounds, but ‘tis the season!).
Here are a few things that help me not eat entire trays of pumpkin pies between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day:
Drink 8-16 ounces of water during mealtimes. This helps me feel full and also keeps me from eating too many servings if my meal is especially delicious.
Add spices to my meals. Flavorful and/or spicy meals give me more satisfaction, so I’m okay eating one piece of mint chocolate and not the whole bowl later on.
Skip the starch/carb at a meal if I plan to have cookies/ pie/candy/wine/mimosa later. Sometimes, I’ll fill up on veggies and protein, and save my starch/carb for dessert.
Share more. Usually, just a bite or two of a sweet treat is enough for me. It’s easier to stop if I’m sharing, too. I’ll even share bites of candy or cookies with my son, which I’m gonna go ahead and say he likes. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy the taste and that’s all I need.
But occasionally I need the whole thing, too. And I’m totally okay with that.
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a