The holidays and your health don’t have to be mortal enemies, as long as you pay attention to sneaky ways the season can sabotage your well-being. While many freelance health writers may be focusing on things to do to stay slim and fit over the holiday season, it’s equally as important to look at things you should not do.
Don’t deprive yourself. One deprivation strategy is to refuse to eat any of the goodies at all. Another is to eat but not eat enough to fill you up, warns Self magazine. Both serve as a setup for a big, fat binge. Whether you end up with a Dairy Queen quest on the way home from the fete or with a box of chocolates in your bed that evening, your body and brain are likely to demand excessive delicacies to make up for all those you missed.
Don’t rationalize. Rationalization can go hand-in-hand with deprivation, or it can sabotage your health on its own. You can do the former by not eating all day, or even for several days, prior to a big party with big food options. You rationalize by saying your mini-starvation diet gives you permission to eat as much as you want once you get to the celebration.
Rationalization working solo can give you any of number of reasons to indulge in the edibles with abandon. These may include:
- The host spent so much time making this stuff. It would be sinful not to eat it.
- The host will get offended if I don’t at least try a bite (or seven).
- People are starving in (enter country here). I can’t let all this food go to waste.
- I can always start a diet tomorrow.
Sometimes your rationalization can offer up an entire equation:
- Susie and Bill are eating the cake.
- Susie and Bill are both fatter than I am.
- If they are fatter and can eat cake, then I can have my cake and eat it, too.
Don’t sit by the food and drinks, for goodness sake! Sitting by the buffet, near the kitchen, or anywhere else where all the high-calorie, high-fat delicacies are easily reached or displayed is just asking for trouble. Being within arm’s reach of any goodie gives you free reign to rein it right into your mouth in a distracted manner without even realizing how much you’re eating.
Being so close to the sight and smells of all the foods can drive you to eat, says Cornell University researcher and Mindful Eating author Brian Wansink. “You are influenced by your surroundings, and our studies show these kinds of cues result in eating more food,” he tells WebMD.
One final don’t for your holiday health is to avoid abandoning your regular routine. Being stressed out, lacking sleep and trying to stuff too much on your plate figuratively can lead to stuffing too much on your plate, literally. Such stuffing is never healthy while moderation and relaxation can go a very long way indeed.
Ryn G is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.