Caitlin Ball
December 07, 2016 5:22 pm
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There’s a whole lot to love about the holidays. The lights, the festive mood, the parties, the cookies, the champagne, and the food! The problem is that the holidays also bring a lot of stress along with them…the family obligations, the gift giving — and the guilt you feel after eating an overload of cookies, drinking too much champagne, and giving into other food temptations. The highs come with lows, and sometimes the lows can come more often than the highs.

I spent much of my life on and off dieting, so the mindset of “Oh, I’ll diet in January,” was as natural to me as brushing my teeth.

That meant that I could eat whatever I wanted, drink whatever I wanted, and do whatever I wanted in December! It didn’t matter, because January was coming soon enough and I would go on some crazy cleanse and wash it all away.

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It felt fun and fancy-free to let go completely in December…until it didn’t anymore. It began to feel like one giant hangover I couldn’t escape from. I had pimples all over my face and my clothes stopped fitting. I couldn’t physically stop myself from eating my favorite holiday brownies. I couldn’t stand the thought of making small talk at one more freaking party. I became annoyed at every family member when they were just being their usual selves.

But they told me to eat as much sugar as I wanted and drink as many pomegranate martinis as I wanted and it would all magically go away in January! What was I doing wrong?

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I was listening to the diet industry.

I fell into a trap thinking that this all-or-nothing mindset was going to make me a happy person. That gaining and losing ten pounds a few times a year was normal. That eating all the sweets in the house now before the diet on Monday would be the best option.

I finally came to my senses a few years ago and quit dieting for good. I learned how to eat for my body. I learned that I am allowed to eat anything I want — and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

I learned that I don’t have to be on a restrictive diet or weigh a certain number on the scale to be happy in my life. It was a journey, but since recovering from dieting, I’ve noticed that I enjoy the holiday season so much more than I ever did before. Let me tell you why the holidays are way better now that I’ve quit dieting.

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I eat sugar in normal quantities, and I eat it consciously.

Since I now allow myself to eat sugar whenever I want the whole year, I have a much better sense of how much sugar my body can handle. Sure, I probably still eat more desserts during the holidays than I do the rest of the year, but I eat the sweets that I truly enjoy. And when I do eat them, I do so consciously so I am completely satisfied after one or two. I don’t feel the need to binge on a whole plate of them.

I don’t just grab a dessert when I pass by the kitchen and stuff it in my mouth while I’m walking back to my desk. I decide if I want it, make a cup of tea to go with it, and sit down and enjoy the heck out of it. Because I don’t eat as much sugar as I used to during the holidays, I’m less moody, have more energy, and don’t feel like a bloated Grinch.

I find time for me.

I used to have FOMO and felt the need to attend every event that I was invited to during the holidays. I finally realized this wasn’t actually the best way to enjoy the holiday season. Now, I choose which events I want to go to and find excuses for the rest. That way, I still have time for some of my normal healthy habits, like doing yoga, going to bed early, or making a healthy dinner. Come time for my favorite events of the year, I’m feeling like a confident, sexy lady in my little red dress, ready to enjoy the night to the fullest.

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I take it one meal at a time.

If I ate a “bad” breakfast or lunch during my diet years, I would throw in the towel and eat whatever I wanted for the rest of the day — telling myself that I would do better tomorrow. During the holiday season, this would go into overdrive because of all of the events with rich food and unlimited drinks. Now, when I’ve had a big lunch, I compensate with a small dinner loaded with veggies, or vice versa. I can start the next day feeling good, which makes it easier to say no to the cookies and say yes to the soup. And that helps me feel better on a daily basis.

I stick to one-ingredient drinks.

So many of my hangovers were due to those specialty drinks they tend to serve at holiday events. I would drink them because they were handed to me, not because I actually wanted them. I actually prefer wine or champagne, so I realized it was time to start drinking what I actually want to drink. It’s not a hard rule – maybe I have an eggnog to start, but I know that feeling good the next day is still better than the taste of a second eggnog.

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I found that overindulging during the holidays didn’t make me happier in the long — it was just what I knew. Too much food and drink makes me moody, which doesn’t make anything fun. Plus, feeling bloated for a whole month isn’t exactly the best thing for comfort or confidence. Overindulging seems to be the more “fun” option in the moment, but really, is it more fun? You can decide for yourself, but I know now how I like to enjoy the holidays.

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