Ah yes, holidays are here. Times of cheer and drinks and yummy non-nutritious foods. Do you ever wonder why we tend to eat the worst in times of celebration? Shouldn’t we be enjoying foods that make us FEEL good when we’re the happiest?
Anyway, that’s another blog post altogether. Today I want to talk about holiday compulsion.
The holiday compulsion I’m speaking of (and experienced, to an extent) comes from eating too much…or drinking too much…then following it with a compulsion of restrictive eating and/or excessive exercise. Usually the compulsion stems from feelings of guilt and fear of something (often times, weight gain).
I realize not everyone does this and I’m not trying to advocate that they do. But it’s a pattern of behavior I’ve seen happen frequently enough that I’m hoping this blog post will help some people.
First, I’m all about useful, positive information in blog posts so I want you to please remember one of my token lines:
“It is NOT what you do SOME of the time – it’s what you do MOST of the time that matters.”
Let’s keep it real – you WILL NOT gain weight from one meal. Well, actually that’s not entirely true. You may gain weight from sodium and water retention but you will not gain FAT from one meal (which is what most people are afraid of).
How do I know this? Simple. There are 3500 calories in a pound and most people who “overeat” during the holidays probably do so by 500-700 calories. Trust me, I can eat as much as anyone and I’m not sure I’ve EVER overeaten by 3500 calories in a single meal. That’s a whole lotta eatin’! The reality is, it would take overeating at roughly 5 meals to even see any type of quantifiable change. And by “quantifiable change,” I mean gaining a single pound.
But most people respond with the compulsion from ONE meal…which will NEVER make or break you.
So, why in the heck are you being so hard on yourself?
Whether you realize it or not, excessive exercise or restrictive eating is a form of self-imposed punishment to alleviate guilt. On some conscious, or sub-conscious level, you do not like what you’ve just done and you’re punishing yourself for it.
Wouldn’t it be better to create a system of rewards?
What I’m actually telling you is this – PLEASE go ahead and enjoy your holiday eats and drinks. I can’t wait to make cookies (I usually eat half the cookie dough!) and I have a “special” recipe for homemade egg nog…the heavy, fat-laden kind!
What I’d recommend doing: don’t worry about increasing your workouts, don’t feel guilty and don’t restrict your eating. Eat and drink whatever you want to…SOME of the time. But for the other MOST of the time, focus on being reeeeeeally good. Eat clean and eat healthy. Don’t skip meals. Drink a ton of water. Eat small portion sizes, frequently. Have lean protein at each meal. Then focus on the yummy non-nutritious eats and drinks as REWARDS for your healthy behaviors…which will always be better and more fulfilling than punishments.
Happy healthy holidays 😀
P.S. Other important thing to note – restricting your eating to levels below what your body actually needs will cause you to GAIN more weight in the long run. This is exactly what happens with yo-yo diets. You eat less and your metabolism slows. Then when you go back to eating “normal” again, your body will no longer be burning the same amount of calories as it once was. You may want to check out the blog posts on great weight loss strategies and the best ways to burn fat.