How to Enjoy, Not Overindulge, the Holidays Sweets and Treats
Late summer into early and mid-fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Don’t get me wrong; I love the long, warm days of summer and all of the fun that comes from “Summer Lovin’."
But as the leaves start falling, the humidity breaks and the temperatures cool, I always find myself enjoying the nostalgic romanticism for this time of the year. Judge me all you want, but I’m pretty sure the earliest I’ve ever decorated for Christmas was the beginning of October (shout out to the boys of Copley North 303).
With the hustle and bustle of the summer coming to a close, the cooler weather and the shorter days slow us down a bit. We start to prepare for and then embrace the holiday season and enjoy (hopefully) more time with our family and friends.
But with this time of year also comes some of the more challenging situations as it relates to our fitness and nutrition.
This isn’t to say we can’t relax a little bit and enjoy some foods that are typically on our no-fly list or spend less time in the gym and more time socializing, shopping, and being with our friends and family. However, many of us find it challenging to go about this in a way that does not completely unravel our hard (but fun) work and consistent efforts.
It’s ok, you’re not alone, and I’m here to help. Today specifically, we’re focusing on those of us who work in an office environment where it seems like every other day someone is bringing something in that has base ingredients of sugar, flour, and butter.
What I want you to remember is this: this is a time of year to enjoy yourself. You’re not enjoying yourself if you’re being self-critical for eating a cookie. Your healthy lifestyle doesn’t exist in isolation. We need something that accounts for the ebbs and flows of our life.
And don’t forget, if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right.
So, first and foremost:
Get your mind right.
Acknowledge that your focus is enjoyment, even indulgence, just not overindulgence. This is super important because when we feel guilty after the first bite, we tend to prematurely throw in the towel and believe all is lost.
I acknowledge that this is easier said than done which is why it’s important we call attention to it. I need you to do me a favor and understand that it’s ok to enjoy cookies, brownies, and cakes - not so much if you eat the whole cake or the entire batch of cookies or brownies.
One or two cookies is an indulgent treat. Much more than that and the cons start to exponentially outweigh the pros. Nobody feels good after eating a dozen cookies. I know from experience :-)
So how do we prevent the mindless, almost maniacal overindulgence from settling in? Here are a few of my most recommended strategies that are all based around mindfulness and habit loops.
Drink Water and Stay Hydrated
Seems simple enough right? A big glass of water will help fill up your stomach and fend of hunger that is often dehydration in disguise. Drink water in between each treat, and you’ll find yourself less likely to go past anything more than seconds. Plus, staying hydrated makes it a bit easier to resist temptation in the first place.
Brush Your Teeth
Another pretty simple one. This is one of my favorites. Sometimes I eat simply because the taste or aftertaste in my mouth is uncomfortable and I want that to go away. If you brush your teeth before diving in you’ll either have to wait a bit before eating the cookie - mint chocolate is great but not toothpaste mint.
Or, you’ll have second thoughts about a second helping if you brush after the first go around. This is a great “pattern interrupt” because it prevents us from mindlessly grabbing more and more. We have to step away from everything to a kitchen or bathroom sink and then most of us don’t associate a fresh, clean mouth with wanting to eat more.
Now we’re stepping up the game a bit. While eating slowly seems simple, most sweet, decadent treats are designed for mass consumption. This is where we can allow ourselves to enjoy and indulge what we’re eating but not overindulge. Eating slowly keeps us present. We’re most likely not used to eating slowly, so we’re much more focused on what we’re doing.
Those are three of my favorite “go anywhere” strategies because they don’t require any specialized equipment and we can seamlessly integrate them without much attention. While brushing your teeth might not be as easy for an office party (though still easy enough to step away for a moment), it's simple enough in your day-to-day.
Do you have any go-to strategies the help conquer the office gauntlet of sweets, treats, and happy meals?