For a while I thought I saw a downward trend in the Holiday Binge followed by the New Year Restriction. But then I realized that it only appeared to be a downward trend because I chose to step out of that cycle.
For decades January 1 has been the official “reset” date for all bad habits. A time to start fresh, turn over a new leaf, renew your lease on life. And while I’m all for setting goals, I do find that the promise of the New Year can often cause us to indulge in even unhealthier habits today.
For example, you decide that come January 1 you’re going to give up sugar. So naturally, Thanksgiving and Christmas lose their true meaning and instead, become sugar feasts. Because hey, you’ll be “good” next month, right? Eh… research says, likely wrong.
I hear these words all the time. “I was so bad during the holidays, now I have to be good.” Well good news! EATING is not bad. And depriving yourself, or worse, indulging while feeling guilty the entire time, will only set you up to perpetuate that binge > guilt > restrict cycle come the new year.
So here is it: you official permission slip to indulge and enjoy without guilt this holiday season. Wait no, this is your official permission slip to indulge and enjoy without guilt always.
It’s true we often find ourselves over indulging because we know that grandma’s delicious stuffing won’t make it’s way to the dinner table until next year. But, that “last supper” mentality also peeks it’s way through when we’re planning to restrict (calories, carbs, sugar) in the upcoming days, weeks, or months.
Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods all of the time, and you might realize that once permission is granted, and guilt released, you might be more likely to indulge moderately, or, not at all. Here are some ways to set you up for success.
1. Don’t skip meals to “save up” or “make up” for a holiday meal or party
It’s tempting to skip breakfast, lunch, or snacks the day of a big holiday like Thanksgiving, or perhaps even the day of a holiday party. But, reaching a 10 on the hunger scale is like reaching the legal limit for being drunk. You might feel in control, but you’re likely not fit to operate a vehicle, or in this case, navigate the dinner table. Skipping meals makes it much more difficult to tap into those fullness cues, eat mindfully, and know when to slow down. (Hear more on this topic in my conversation with Marci Evans on Episode 2 of the BodyLove Studio Podcast).
2. Keep sweating
You don’t have to participate in a workout marathon to “make up” or “pay” for your holiday meal. But starting the day off with a walk, or your regular workout routine helps you once again, get in touch with your body. Plus, the added endorphins help stave off those feelings of guilt that might come with overindulging.
3. Stick to your regular sleep schedule
Try sticking to your regular sleep schedule (maybe catching an extra hour or so if you’re typically sleeping less than 8 hours/night). Sleep deprivation, like food deprivation, lowers inhibitions and increases stress hormones, again, making it difficult to truly tap into those hunger and fullness cues and feed your body mindfully.
I hope this permission slip helps you relax and enjoy this holiday season. Let me know in the comments below… What are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?