Christmas decorations and retail holiday gift sets have been on display since the end of September, so it’s not surprising that nutritional propaganda about holiday eating started being jousted at consumers in conjunction with the early onslaught of sleigh bells and gift wrapping.
Mixed messages in the media abound with images of indulgent holiday classics like iced fruit cake juxtaposed with the latest diet fads and fitness trends in anticipation of Jan. 1.
Last month, I opened up my complimentary subscription to "Cooking Light" and saw an article touting how to save 555 calories at Thanksgiving. I could not stifle the guffaw as I examined the visual of two plates side by side, comparing 20 calories saved by choosing cranberry sauce over gravy or the 27-calorie deficit from putting 4 ounces of light and dark meat turkey on your plate versus 4 ounces of white meat with skin.
While these sensible swaps are great ideas to integrate into healthier daily eating habits, it seems really trivial, borderline shallow and unnecessarily obsessive to be worrying about a few hundred calories on one or two really special days of the year when you are hopefully surrounded by friends and family that will love you whether you are at your "happy" weight or a few pounds over.
It’s a given that this time of year includes an inevitable packing on of the pounds, but I am certain this is not just happening from a single meal at Thanksgiving or one Christmas dinner. It’s from a collective burning of fewer calories since most people engage in less activity due to colder temps and shorter days and repeated increased calorie consumption from more social eating and drinking with the boost in holiday get-togethers.
No one’s diet or training program was ever totally sabotaged from one indulgence. And certainly not from a few bites or even an entire satisfying holiday meal made special by Grandma or Auntie June. Healthy eating and living is a true lifestyle choice; it’s not a temporary plan with permanent results. Maintaining a physical body and personal fitness plan takes persistence and consistency.
Making better choices every day at every meal is what creates health and garners results. To deny the pleasures of traditional family classics for the sake of a few hundred extra calories on one day or to ruminate on wanting to have a taste of Cousin Betty’s cheesy green bean casserole instead of just having it can ruin an entire event. The point is not to fixate on what you can’t have or to have guilt when you do indulge – that just creates cravings and ultimately is a set up for an endless cycle of dieting and binging. Just have a bite or two and appreciate, savor and relish it!
Family events can be stressful, but they are also filled with the most important people in your life, so to let anxiety about nutritional choices cloud important get togethers with those closest to you is a frivolous waste of energy.
Take the advice of "Cooking Light" and apply it steadily in making healthier choices that are right for you on a regular basis. But, don’t let the math of what’s happening on your holiday plate drive you bananas foster, make depriving yourself the focus of celebrations, the labor of comparing fat grams the cause of any sort of worry or let waffling over a bite of dessert put a damper on enjoying the company of your loved ones.
Your sanity may be the biggest holiday save of all.
Lindsay Garric is a Milwaukee native who calls her favorite city home base for as long as her lifestyle will allow her. A hybrid of a makeup artist, esthetician, personal trainer and entrepreneur all rolled into a tattooed, dolled-up package, she has fantasies of being a big, bad rock star who lives in a house with a porch and a white picket fence, complete with small farm animals in a version of Milwaukee that has a tropical climate.
A mishmash of contradictions, colliding polar opposites and a dash of camp, her passion is for all pretty things and the products that go with it. From makeup to workouts, food to fashion, Lindsay has a polished finger on the pulse of beauty, fashion, fitness and nutrition trends and is super duper excited to share that and other randomness from her crazy, sexy, gypsy life with the readers of OnMilwaukee.com.