Enjoy the Feast Without Getting Fat: A Guide to Conscious Choice this Holiday Season

Ready or not the holidays are full steam ahead!

During this time of year there is an abundance of delicious food and treats available almost everywhere we go: gigantic family dinners, tasting events at local restaurants, and of course personally wrapped fresh baked goodies from neighbors delivered right to your front door.

I love to go to festive social events and enjoy delicious foods during the holidays—but, I especially love maintaining my health practices throughout this season of indulgence.

There is a way to “have it all,” – the freedom to enjoy the holidays, without having to pay the price of gaining those extra pounds.

Here are three key principles that will allow you the freedom to enjoy the holidays, surrounded by abundant food, while still maintaining your waistline.


Principle 1: Abundance vs. Scarcity: Changing the way we view holiday food

A mindset of scarcity can make it easy to overindulge during the holidays.  If we view eating certain foods as an expiring opportunity, our tendency will be to overeat.  Yes, the pumpkin cheesecake is amazing, and the homemade rolls are to die for….but this isn’t the only season of the year when fine dining can be enjoyed.

Take an honest assessment of the diversity of opportunities you have to eat calorie laden desserts and rich foods.  You may be surprised to note just how many pieces of fudge and other delicacies are presented to you throughout the year.  Being honest and accurate in assessing the abundant opportunity to enjoy good food empowers us to partake of smaller portions, savoring the bites we choose to enjoy, and perhaps passing altogether on foods we don’t truly love.

Principle 2: Everything is a choice: Say “Yes” to yourself

Have you ever been told that something you wanted was “off-limits,” and found yourself wanting that thing even more?  There is something very alluring and enticing about things that are placed in the “off-limits” category in life.  It is human nature.  So, get in the habit of saying “yes” to yourself, and realize you are in control of your choices.

Several years ago my uncle told me how frustrated he was that his three year old daughter wasn’t interested in playing with the multitude of toys he had purchased for her.  What she did want to play with were all the breakable items that she had been told “no” to time after time.  Naturally, she wanted most what she couldn’t have, and her tantrums let everyone know that.

Consider the foods that may be in your “off limits” category.  The psychology of human nature is similar to that of my young niece—our desires are often magnified by the “forbidden fruit.”  Saying no to ourselves over and over again can allow a residue of pent-up emotions to build within us, perhaps eventually manifesting as an all out binge session.  Choose instead to say “yes” to yourself.  On one occasion saying “yes” may mean ordering a chocolate molten cake.  On another occasion you may choose to say “yes” to your healthy lifestyle and refrain from eating dessert altogether.

Principle 3: Keep moving forward: Indulge and move on

Quite easily, the holiday season can morph from being a few great meals to an all out stuff-fest for several months. After indulging on one occasion it may be tempting to just twirl a white handkerchief in the air and “give up” and just choose to eat anything and everything for the entire holiday season in an unconscious blur.  To feel better you may even tell yourself that you will “start” a diet at a popular future date……the New Year!

Realize that when you choose to indulge at an event or feast, you can also choose to do so moderately, and then move on.  Having a few good meals during the holiday season is not going to destroy all of your hard work and good daily habits.   If you have a few occasions that you consciously give yourself permission to indulge, your health goals can still be maintained.  Don’t give up the war simply because you may have lost one battle.

With these simple ways of changing the way holiday food and events are viewed, you can have it all this holiday season.  Focus on what you want most for yourself in health, wellness, and enjoying life. Through doing this, your food choices will be more balanced and fulfilling this holiday season and for the entire year!

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Elizabeth Anderson

Fitness model, sports nutritionist and Mrs. Utah United States (at the age of 37 with 4 children!), Elizabeth Anderson teaches women how to LOVE THEMSELVES FROM THE INSIDE OUT.