Holiday Eating

Well the holidays are here, and with it, the fear of the Holiday Weight Gain.

Like the Freshman Fifteen, the myth of Holiday Weight Gain is just that – a myth. At most, on average, people gain less than 1 pound over the holidays.

Yes, you say, but my friend’s sister’s aunt totally gained ten pounds that one time!

Yes, you say, but my jeans got tight over night and had to really eat a lot of salads the week after Christmas and New Years for them to fit again.

Yes, you say, but I also totally gained five of the fifteen pounds in my freshman year!

The fear people have around food and weight is understandable. After all, as I talked about in my last post, we’re told a lot is bad about gaining weight. So fear around the possibility of weight gain just makes sense (especially with the morality and other problematic things we tie into weight).

But evidence does show that holiday weight gain just doesn’t happen.

And if I told you it was possible to totally enjoy the holidays without gaining weight, how would that make you feel? Safe?

It’s not wanting to stay healthy and enjoy the holidays that I have issue with – and in no way do I see these as separate entities, you can be healthy and indulge and enjoy.

When fear is what controls our actions, and our only motivation around eating is to avoid weight gain, or lose weight, we tend to actually eat worse – and in a way that might lead to weight gain. No longer will we be satisfied with one cookie, now suddenly we have “broken our diet” and it’s just a good idea to gorge ourselves on the entire plate (then they won’t be there to tempt us tomorrow!). And while it’s tempting to blame our bodies (after all the diet industry has been telling us forever that our bodies are wildly out of control) it really is not our bodies fault. I mean how do you feel after eating an entire plate of cookies? Unless you’re a teenager with the metabolism and appetite of a god, you probably don’t feel very good at all.

Your body doesn’t feel very good at all.

This Christmas I dare you to leave fear behind. Instead of asking yourself, how many calories are in this eggnog? I dare you to ask, do I even fricking like eggnog? When is the point of just the right amount of eggnog (ie do you kinda feel sick after that third glass…)? What do I like about it (the rum?!)?

The same goes for those cookies. Instead of giving those little doughy, sugary treats the evil eye as you chew your gum meant to quell your appetite, take one, and eat it in a quiet place. Do you like it? How does it feel in your hand, on your tongue as you chew? Who made it? Was it a special recipe? Did you and your son or daughter whip them up for the family, did you have fun making a giant mess in the kitchen?

Food is about so much more than weight. And when we can step away from weight being the only motivator to our food choices, we give ourselves a true chance to enjoy and indulge in food mindfully.

Please stop believing in the myth of the Holiday Weight Gain, stop looking over your shoulder for this mythological weighty creature. The holidays are about so much more than the size of your waist.

**PS Also think about what you really want to eat… you might be surprised by how much you and your body want something “healthy” amidst all the temptations. Or you might not. Both ways are ok.