Getting Back on Track after the Holidays

holiday cakeThe holidays are always filled with so much anticipation whether you are a young child or whether you are young at heart. My family is spread out a bit, so the holidays come with lots of traveling for me. If you’ve been reading Holistically Haute™ lately (of course you have, right? ;) you know I’ve been trying to make healthier choices for food and try to reduce the stress that is associated with all of this holiday anticipation by focusing on making the time to breathe and take really good care of myself. But, despite my best intentions, I still indulged on some homemade desserts and heavier dinners prepared by my family members. After all, what am I supposed to do? Pack a mini-fridge of my own food to eat at family holiday parties while everyone else enjoys goodies that have been traditions for decades? Not if I want to be invited back next year!

So, what’s a girl to do? I’ve worked so hard and accomplished so much over the past 8 months or so, am I going to let a couple of weekends of holiday eating interfere with my own goals? No way.

Lose the guilt.

This subject came up in my session with my client Erika this morning. We discussed how much amazing progress she has made by taking small steps and making small changes over these past several weeks, but then she confessed to enjoying some traditional, maybe not-so-healthy holiday foods herself. She said she was feeling a little bit guilty about maybe having more than she had intended to. 

We talked a bit more about guilt associated with food, what to do when you need to eat but are surrounded with less-than-healthy food choices, and how to get back on track after the festivities have ended. I reminded her about one of the most important aspects of my philosophy of achieving better health and overall wellness: it is not about denying yourself or punishing yourself or dwelling on and regretting certain choices we make. And it is certainly not about feeling guilty.

Guilt is one of those emotions that we can choose to dwell on or move on from. It is a negative emotion that, if given too much power, can become a toxin itself that is just as bad, if not worse, than any toxins that may have resulted from eating too many white carbs or sugar over the holidays. I am not saying that you can make yourself not feel guilty when you know you could have made better choices: it is important to acknowledge the emotion and the choice that brought it on, and then immediately move forward with better choices and more positive emotions.

Don’t stress over things you can’t control.

Even if you are hosting the holiday (or other type of) party yourself, you cannot always control what kind of food will be at your table. People always bring things to be shared, and face it: not everyone is open to trying healthier alternatives to their favorite traditional holiday meals. If you are preparing food for a crowd, you do have to try to make something for everyone. This doesn’t always include mashed cauliflower or minty-fresh green bean salads! Just like you can’t expect to not find decadent desserts and rich comfort foods at your aunt’s holiday table. And that’s OK. It’s just one day. Or in my family’s case it’s just a weekend or two.

pastaIt is not worth letting stressing about the food that might not be an ideal choice for you personally to get in the way of you enjoying your family’s company for the holidays. It’s the classic “when in Rome do as the Romans do” kind of thing.

I will admit to enjoying a piece of my aunt’s homemade chocolate and peanut butter cream pie two weekends ago when I was visiting my family in the Finger Lakes. I will also admit to enjoying not one but two bowls of my father’s pasta with our family’s traditional pignole nut marinara sauce. 

Yes these foods contained sugar, gluten, and dairy (products I no longer prepare meals with or keep in my kitchen at home), but these foods were very rich with one of the most important nutrients that you can only get from homemade foods prepared by family members: good old Vitamin L (love). Laugh all you want, but it is true. And many Americans are deficient in Vitamin L since homecooked, traditional family meals have become fewer and fewer in many homes.

I’ll also admit to feeling a tad guilty (especially after that pie), but I didn’t dwell on it. We are allowed to enjoy treats from time to time, especially if we eat really nutritious food the rest of the time. Which brings me to my next point:

The 80/20 rule

There are actually several 80/20 rules in holistic nutrition, but the one I am referring to is quite simple: do your best to eat healthfully and mindfully 80% of the time (this is usually the amount of time you have control of what you eat), and leave the remaining 20% for those family parties or other times when you are not able to stick to your “plan”. Don’t obsess over these percentages…78/22 will not mess you up…but of course 60/40 or 50/50 probably won’t serve you that well.

Don’t set yourself up for negative emotions.

Around the holidays, especially with the new anticipation of those dreaded New Year’s resolutions we tend to weigh ourselves more than we really need to. After all, nobody wants to hear that you want to lose “a few” pounds…they are much more satisfied with “I want to lose 23.84567774 pounds” (because really, are these resolutions for you or for them?). So we eat to our heart’s delight and stuff our bellies and then jump on the scale the next morning to get an exact measure of how guilty we should be for doing so.

scale2aDon’t do it. Nothing good can come from weighing yourself right after you know you ate too much the day before. Chances are that food hasn’t even properly digested yet. Again: acknowledge that yes, you ate too much. But then let it go. You don’t need digital evidence that you ate too much.You’re just going to make yourself feel guilty and miserable. Nobody needs that at any time of the year.

Once you are back in your own environment and reality resumes, simply get back to eating the healthier way you were eating before. Wait a couple of weeks and then get on the scale if you feel you must (although I really don’t feel it is that necessary). More likely than not, any weight you gained from the holidays will be gone quickly after you resume your regular way of eating. This is, of course, assuming that you do eat healthy the majority of the time.

I am really enjoying my sessions with Erika and am so happy with how much she has accomplished in such a short period of time. She’s given me some great recipe ideas too.

Do you feel like you need help getting back on track after the holidays? I can work with you one-on-one to help you achieve your goals. Start today by scheduling a one-on-one HH Hash it Out phone or Skype session with me.

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