Habits of Healthy Eaters: Celebrate Holidays for One Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In these modern days, with busy lives, blended families, and packed social calendars, the holidays would be better named the holi-weeks.

For me, the holidays started on Monday, with an office party--lunch from Panera and bowling. Then, after a couple of days of last-minute shopping, working frantically to get ready for the shortened week, and a four-hour drive to my mother's house late last night, we had Christmas Eve dinner with my mom's family.

Today, we were up early to open presents, and soon we'll have lunch with my stepdad's extended family. Tomorrow we have a two-hour drive to my dad and stepmom's for Christmas, round two, and then another two-hour drive home to my boyfriend's mom's house for Christmas, round three. Dinner with a friend will follow on Sunday.


My tactic to survive this weekend is easy: I'm celebrating the holiday for one day. The rest of the week is business as usual.

I'm not going to lie. I haven't been the most angelic of eaters this month.

I did well at Thanksgiving. I ran a 10K on Thanksgiving Day, then helped cook. I ate a large meal and two servings of dessert, but I stopped before I felt too awful. I also survived a cocktail party at my apartment and my 10-year reunion without going too overboard. (I might have dangled over the edge, but I didn't fall off the boat completely!)

In December, I vowed to stay on track by committing to exercising every day. I technically haven't missed a day, though last Saturday my exercise consisted of about three minutes of planks and a few minutes of stretching, plus a 10-minute walk. Unfortunately, I forgot the word "no," and I indulged a bit more than I should have. Have I gained 10 pounds? I don't weigh myself, so I really don't know. Judging from how my jeans fit, I think it's more like one or two pounds. And I'm OK with that.

I can't undo the poor judgment I've exercised in the past. (Really, Stepfanie, did you need to eat six homemade almond butter cookies? Well, they were small--and super delicious. Did you need to order takeout Mexican last weekend? Your pantry and fridge were fully stocked. Did you need to get that fancy frozen coffee drink at the mall?) Um, no, is the answer in all of those scenarios.

What I can do is plan ahead and choose one day to celebrate with food. For me, that day is Christmas Day, today. I'll enjoy a bit of all the dishes prepared by my mom. (Don't tell anyone, but hers is the only food I like at our family potlucks. The rest of the family is too heavy handed with the salt, and they skimp on veggies.) I also made a chickpea pot pie for my sister, brother-in-law and me (the family vegetarians). It's somewhat like a recipe from this cookbook. I tasted a bite earlier, and it was great. (I'll post my recipe soon!)

Last night, at my aunt's, I made a vegetarian shepherd's pie using French lentils so I knew there would be something healthy for me to eat. (Again, recipe to come!) A hearty portion of that, plus a few servings of broccoli, and I was full and satisfied. I still had room for dessert, but I resisted the trays of cookies and candy that abound. (My mom, aunt and gramma are all amazing bakers!)

Tomorrow, when I have Christmases two and three, I'll eat normal portions and skip dessert at lunch. I'll also hold off on cocktails. (OK, maybe just one glass of wine.)

By Monday, I'll feel like I indulged, without that icky food "hangover" feeling that accompanies day after day of gluttonous meals.

Oh, and I'm following Coach Nicole's advice. I'm treating the holiday (and the entire weekend) like any other day. I ran yesterday, did pushups and yoga today, and I'll be taking a walk after lunch. Tomorrow, I'll squeeze in a morning run or walk before we hit the road. I don't have tons of time to work out, but even a bit of movement is better than nothing.

Wish me luck!

How are you surviving the holidays?