Holiday eating strategy

The flat screen televisions hang in a row at the front of the room, perched as distractions for treadmill sufferers, like myself. Interval workouts this time of year (even with the balmy temperatures) put me inside on the treadmill. Boring? Yes. Unbearably hot at times? Certainly. But it gives me more consistency in my workout and so I suck it up until spring.

Today while speeding through my 600 meter intervals, the morning shows were well into their lifestyle hour and more than one station touted an upcoming segment which, in some way, shape or form, promised to help viewers deal with holiday weight gain. You’ve seen the segments, perused the magazine headlines and browsed the Internet articles. There are tricks to “party proof” your diet and tips on how to keep your caloric intake in check during this festive time of year. And from time to time, I read these, hoping to get a nuget of insight which might help making informed choices that much easier.

But there’s something that doesn’t sit right with me about these stories. For the record, I don’t have any problems with the strategies themselves. Often I find some of the information useful or interesting. Rather, the problem comes in the way it’s presented. It sets me up with things like “shoulds.” It demonizes food. (You know the fastest way to get me to eat a boatload of cookies? Tell me not to eat cookies.) And, in general, it perpetuates my own bad feelings about myself. Ever try to make good health (and life) decisions when you’re feeling like crap about yourself? Trust me. It’s not good. You end up doing crazy things, like eating an entire can of Reddi Whip or dating a Yankees fan. These may sound like a good idea at the time, but your judgement is clouded and you end up with a stomach ache and a broken heart.

I believe in making choices. I believe in balance. I believe in intention.

What does this look in practice? In my life, it means that I strive to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time, eating mostly plants with as little commercial processing as possible. It means that 20 percent of the time I’m enjoying pancakes and ice cream  and chocolate and wine. It means that all the time I try to eat with intention — making choices rather than just consuming mindlessly. Intention sounds easy, but in reality it’s the most difficult part of the equation. It takes practice and patience. But it doesn’t take perfection. It doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach. It doesn’t take a “damage control” mentality.

My holiday eating strategy? Be mindful of my day. Eat good, healthy food most of the time. Be easy on myself. Enjoy the season.

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