With the holidays quickly approaching and American Thanksgiving just wrapped up, I’ve seen a lot of social media posts offering nutrition tips and advice to be successful during these times. A lot of these posts refer to “bad” foods and how to avoid them. So, what constitutes a “bad” food? Do you have to avoid them all?
“Does this food help me?”
First, let’s change the vocabulary. Some foods are more nutritious and healthy than others, but we don’t have to view them as “bad”. What’s the difference? Personally, I think labeling something as bad, or off limits, plays a psychological trick on you and makes you want it even more (it does for me, at least – tell me I can’t have it and it’s all I want… like a 5 year old). Instead, think in terms of your goal, and ask yourself if this food is going to help you reach it. If you can regard a food as less healthy, or not beneficial to your goal, it might help keep you on track.
Previously, I wrote about following the 80/20 guideline (check it out here). With this, you can create a balance that works for you, allowing you to have those less healthy foods as a treat. With this mindset, you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself, and you’re less likely to have to deal with intense cravings.
So, how do you handle the holidays? It comes down to what works FOR YOU. If you’re trying to reach specific goals, such as losing weight, will you be mad at yourself for eating less healthy food? If that’s going to be the case, you’re better off saying no. If you’re happy to set an “allowance” of sorts and can stick to that happily, then go for it. Having a healthy outlook on these situations is necessary. Don’t punish yourself afterwards, either through restricted eating or excessive workouts. Enjoy your meal and get back on track afterwards.
Food for thought – If your meal is falling at an odd time (most holiday meals seem to take place early in the afternoon), you might feel hungry again in the evening. If this is the case, consider having a healthy option readily available so you aren’t tempted to have another meal…of dessert.
Holidays are about spending time with family and friends – so enjoy it. Your focus should be on the relationships rather than stressing about the food in front of you. It’s JUST FOOD! Look at it objectively and have a plan in place, if needed. Keep to your workouts as usual and find the nutritional balance that works for you.