Been slacking off on cooking this month? Eating out? Spending money?
It’s okay. Me too.
Just before the holidays, I had started experimenting with a new eating schedule that’s been making my body feel really good. I was two weeks in before flying out to the East Coast for the holidays to visit family, throwing off my whole schedule again. But I’m not worried about it. At Feast, we pick our battles wisely.
The holidays are a great way to wrap up the year, reflect on the past year’s challenges and accomplishments, and celebrate before tucking in to the following year.
With that is going to come the inevitable holiday feasts, drinking, and general resulting sluggishness.
It’s the frickin holidays. You’re celebrating another year of being an awesome human. Don’t, even for a second, feel bad about your pots and pans getting dusty.
By restricting yourself and watching enviously as your coworkers and friends drink and eat with reckless abandon, you’re setting yourself up for guilty bingefests. Psychologists Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman have been demonstrating this principle since 1985. Their findings suggest that when people are on a restricted diet that causes stress or preoccupation, they’re more likely to indulge those behaviors later.
If you tell yourself it’s ok to indulge this month, you’re more likely to be able to relax and make more balanced decisions. The forbidden fruit of holiday food doesn’t look quite as tempting anymore.
I still value eating well, and more importantly, I still hate how I feel when I overeat, so even though I may be eating out at restaurants or dining with relatives right now, I continue to observe these practices:
- Don’t eat unless I feel hungry.
- Favor real, whole foods when possible.
- Don’t eat more filler food than I need (like bread rolls or rice).
- Eat slowly and mindfully.
- When my stomach is full, stop.
Rather than arbitrary rules that some schmoe told me to follow, I think of these as things I personally value when I eat, that will never change regardless of diet, location, income, social pressures, or time of year.
One of the nice things about forming habits is once they’re engrained into your brain, they’re a lot easier to pick up if you fall off the track, because you’re not learning a whole new set of behaviors from scratch. You’ve internalized how to grocery shop efficiently, how to chop vegetables quickly, how to whip up a meal without a recipe.
So when January rolls around and I’m back to my old routines, I’m confident I can get back into my regular cooking schedule again.
Until then, calorie counting? Fat and sugar content? It’s all good around holiday time.
Enjoy those gingerbread men. We’ll catch up with you in the kitchen when you’re ready again.
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