How I Plan To Eat, Drink, & Be Healthy This Holiday Season

Every holiday season, I tell myself that I shouldn’t indulge, so that I can stay healthy. But, what if a little indulgence actually makes me healthier overall?
In the past, I scanned the magazine shelves for every issue that claimed it would help me “Lose five pounds this holiday season!” I scoured the pages for advice on how not to overeat, and then I made my list of holiday don’ts: Don’t stand near the food at holiday parties; don’t have more than two glasses of wine each week; don’t head to a holiday party without eating a healthy meal at home; don’t be surprised if your holiday season is the worst ever.
Seriously, I felt like the only options I had were to drink all the creamy eggnog and eat every kind of truffle in the candy box and feel like a glutton — or spend the holiday season gnawing on raw kale while walking on the treadmill in an empty gym, lonely as can be. Neither of these choices was particularly appealing.
That's why, this year, I became determined to find an option that outwits both of the above — a happy medium that allows me to enjoy myself without going overboard. I deserve to eat my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas foods without going 10 steps backwards on my healthy-eating journey.
So, this holiday season, I’m redefining what healthy and indulgent — two seemingly opposite adjectives — mean to me. Here’s my plan:

Put People Before Food
Something that’s helped me greatly on my healthy-curves journey is deciding when I’m showing up for the people and when I’m showing up for the food. Sometimes, spending time with the people I love is all I need to feel happily full, so I don't mind ordering the salad when my friends and I get together for one last brunch before we fly home to see our families. On the other hand, if my Uncle Arthur invites us over for his famous sweet-potato pie that I only have access to once a year, I'm not passing it up.

Eat In A Loving Environment
There’s a big difference between enjoying Christmas dinner surrounded by people I love and rushing through forkfuls of cold leftovers at 11 p.m. in front of the refrigerator. As someone who has a tendency to binge eat, the combination of an abundance of rich foods and full days of Christmas vacation can wreak havoc on my health. I've fallen into the grazing-all-day trap, as well as eating when I’m not hungry and eating alone, which automatically means I eat more — just because the food's there.

This holiday season, I've decided that each meal should involve a loving moment where I take time to prepare a plate, invite one of my family members or friends to join me, and then sit down to food and conversation. This will put the meal into perspective for me and remind me to appreciate the special treats I’m having during this short period of time.

Get Moving
My gym schedule is non-negotiable during the holiday season. That may mean arriving to the holiday party late after Zumba or leaving the party early if I have a 6 a.m. training session planned. When I move more, I am more mindful of my eating. Also, it gets me out of the house during Christmas vacation, when I have time off. It can also be an alternate way of spending time with my family and friends — last year, my sisters joined me for walks after meals.

For me, being healthy is more than calories in/calories out. A healthy life is a life full of love and my connections with people around me. I will never look back on Thanksgiving and regret laughing with my cousins over slices of my uncle's famous pie. It's this kind of little indulgence with the people I love that makes my life rich.

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