Nutrition Guilt-Free Eating

the secret to guilt-free eating!

Here’s a recent picture of my family’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. If you look closely, you’ll notice that are not one, but two turkeys (one is a traditional turkey with dressing, the other is wrapped in bacon), ham, macaroni and cheese (or as I put it, cheese and macaroni), potato salad, cole slaw, chitterlings, two types of candied yams (don’t ask why), fruit salad, green beans with ham hocks, sweet corn cake, cranberry sauce, and so on.

Even as a fitness enthusiast, eating healthy around the holidays can be challenging.  Just like the classic movie “Soul Food“, our family holiday meals are a long-standing tradition of handed-down southern recipes from my late grandmother that were made back in the day when there was no limit to how much sugar could be added; and cooking foods in shortening, butter, and bacon grease was the norm.

Guilt-free eating

Guilt-free eating

How do I go about enjoying all of my holiday favs without feeling guilty? Here are some strategies I use and also work on with my clients day in and day out-shifting their mindset and teaching them how to live a healthy and guilt-free life.

The holidays are usually a tough time for those who struggle with maintaining their weight because they have an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to their eating habits. For instance, after eating a hearty meal, you decide to have a couple of cocktails and enjoy a slice (or two) of pie. Your mindset then gravitates to something like this… “well, I already messed up for today, so I’ll just go back to how I usually eat and start again on Monday.” On  the other hand, if you deprive yourself of your favorites, eventually you’ll wind up binging on them.

Work on changing your all-or-nothing attitude about eating

Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite treats this time of year but that it’s only “one” day. Once you realize that it’s ok to enjoy these foods occasionally and still make progress towards your goals, you can move forward from it by getting back on track and making the next meal a healthy one.

Consciously decide ahead of time what you want your indulgences to be. Ask yourself, do prefer extra potatoes, or would you rather have dessert? Indulging in one (or two) will not have a significant impact on your weight. It’s when you go back to your old eating habits that will affect your weight loss efforts.

Make sure you eat a healthy meal prior to the event to prevent yourself from getting so hungry that you end of overdoing it. I always notice that people tend to not want to eat all day so they can same themselves for the festivities. That’s like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach which is a recipe for disaster.

Perform healthy physical rituals

It can be any activity that you can perform for 10 – 30 minutes, elevates your hear rate, and involves using large muscle groups (i.e., quads, hamstrings, chest). For example, take a fitness class, lift some weights, or go for an outdoor hike. Whatever it is, it should make you feel good.

Strive for just maintaining your weight during the holidays

It can be defeating and discouraging to step on the scale this time of year because might display a number higher than what you’re used to. It may also make you feel like you lost all of your progress, which typically isn’t the case. Although research shows that people only gain about one pound around the holidays, you may want to wait at least 1 – 2 weeks before weighing yourself to see what the lasting damage is.

If you think of Thanksgiving and other holiday festivities as a single event, then it’s a lot easier to get back to your healthy habits that you are learning to master on the other days of the year.

Hang in there, you got this!

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