Post-Holiday Food Guilt: How to Deal
It’s the time of year when the egg white carton gets pushed to the back of the fridge; green beans become green bean casserole, and one too many Christmas cookies are shoveled into your mouth.
It’s the holidays.
When I first got into fitness and health, I would be lying if I said the holidays scared the crap out of me. For most of my life, I didn’t really have any sort of restrictive feelings when it came to the dessert table or the lasagna Christmas Eve. But once fitness became a lifestyle, and so much of it centered around nutrition, I started sweating.
I remember the first Christmas of my fitness journey I tried making protein cookies for the family (and for me) to eat instead. They didn’t go over too well. And by the end of the night, I’d felt so restricted that I ended up stuffing myself until I fell into a carb coma at 9 pm. I woke up feeling guilty, confused with myself, and uncomfortably bloated.
How my mindset has changed the past four Christmases:
1. I now recognize that Christmas, and Christmas Eve, are TWO DAYS out of the year. Are two days with family really going to hold you back? No. You have 363 other days to get it right.
2. If you can get a workout in Christmas Eve, that’s great! But it shouldn’t be seen as a “punishment” or a way to “burn off the extra calories”. Exercise should always, no matter when you go, be a celebration of your body and what it can do.
3. I don’t restrict, and that’s why the guilt isn’t there. Instead of restricting and giving up by the end of the night, only to stuff myself sick again, I think it’s important to spread it out throughout the day, and to eat the desserts when your family eats the desserts. FOOD IS A SOCIAL THING. Instead of sneaking to the kitchen and grabbing more cookies, wait until your family eats them, and there is more purpose behind it.
4. Take a mental note of what the “heavy” meals are during the holidays. For me, it’s Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day breakfast. Therefore, I ate pretty normally Christmas Eve up until dinner, and on Christmas Day, didn’t restrict breakfast, but didn’t feel the need to eat a huge lunch or dinner.
5. DON’T beat yourself up. If you overeat, you overeat. It’s two days. Accept the fact that you now have more fuel for your upcoming workouts, and get in the gym.