(Photo by Jaqueline Napoli)
Overcoming Overeating During the Holidays
I used to bake cookies every December— you know—to “give as gifts,” right? I actually did give a lot of cool treats away every year, and I looked forward to it yearly for its incredible fun. But once I realized that it triggered weeks, if not months, of bleary-eyed sugar binges, I had to quit doing it. Even though it was exquisitely rewarding, for my own well-being, I had to respect my limits, a prerequisite for healthy holiday eating. Here are some tips for thriving through the holidays.
#1.) Keep it real.
What would you realistically like to see happen between now and, say, the New Year? Not gaining weight? Losing weight? Not losing control at the parties? Not going back for seconds, thirds, or fourths? Whatever you decide, the best defense is a good offense. What would you realistically like this holiday season to look like for you? Make it challenging, but doable. Start with something you definitely can succeed at.
#2.). Make a plan, and stick to it.
Let’s say you lose self-discipline at parties and also when you get home. This means you need to plan ahead. First, isolate the temptations. Do you eat way too much? Have a big plate of steamed veggies or salad, and a full glass of water before you even get there.
Do you overdo junk? For me, I had to call it completely quits with sugar, because for some reason, once I start, I can’t stop. That’s my limit—zero. Know yours. If one roll and two cookies, or one treat, is your limit, make your plan and stick to it at the party (or as you extend the idea, daily or weekly or whatever). Then after you hit your self-determined quota, it’s you, the celery sticks, and good conversation.
Do you overeat afterwards? Do not leave without regrouping, even in the restroom if need be, and coaching yourself. A mental checklist for me is vital. It could be a hectic to-do list, or a relaxing “go home, get a soda water with lime, take a bath, spend time with God, go to sleep.” But go over it before you walk in, expect the fridge to be screaming at you. Plan ahead of time to say, “Not today, Bud.” It feels pretty good, actually.
It’s not how many times you fall down that counts, it’s how many times you get up. Please, be easy on yourself when you make a poor choice. Just dust yourself off (i.e. cookie crumbs all over your shirt) and start over. We don’t grow unhealthy or overweight in a day, and we don’t get back to health or fitness in a day, either. Progress is the goal—not perfection.
#4). Strengthen your good habits.
First, move more. You don’t have to train for a marathon. Just stretch, go for a walk, or whatever suits you. Just do it more.
Second, “Why spend money on that which is not bread, and your labor on that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of foods” (Isaiah 55:2, Berean Study Bible, emphasis added). God wants to feed your heart, your mind, and your soul. Food can be an idol we turn to for comfort or numbing, and idols always destroy us in the end. Cultivate a habit of Bible reading, prayer, and worship to feed the inner hunger, and your soul will enjoy true feasting and joy.