Each year around the holidays we’re bombarded by the message to “maintain don’t gain.” For years this has rubbed me the wrong way and I haven’t been able to put my finger on just why it bothers me. As a nutritionist, I find maintaining weight through the holiday season rather than gaining weight an honorable, reasonable, and healthy goal. So by all accounts I should give way to the pressure to promote this ideal to anyone willing to listen. For years I have seen the sound logic and reason, and yet could not and would not get on the “maintain don’t gain” bandwagon. Why not?
It has finally dawned on me why this message irks me so and why I simply cannot impress it upon the individuals who count on me for quality health and nutrition information. “Maintain don’t gain” is a message reinforcing the worst of the holiday season is out to get you and you must do your best to battle the odds and SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS. Could we be more negative?
I get it. I truly do. The holidays aren’t all sugar plums and loving hugs, let alone sparkles, Christmas miracles, and delicious baked goods. I understand the holidays bring about stress, addition time obligations, increased money obligations, repetitive holiday music, and a bevy of never-ending Christmas goodies that are too good to resist. That said here’s the thing: Life is and always will be what you make of it. This includes your holiday experience, your health, and your waistline. Why not flip the script and make your holiday season one where you thrive instead of survive?
Start by omitting the phrase “I have to,” and replacing it with “I get to.” It sounds idealistic, but it’s true. If you say anything enough you’ll believe it and in this case this is 100% true. You do “get to” all the things you say that you “have to.” You “have to” spend time with family, go to another Christmas party, or run to the store one more time to empty the last pennies in your wallet for something else holiday related. What happens when you replace all that with “get to.” There are millions who would give anything to be in your shoes, don’t forget that.
Next step, don’t throw your health down the drain because of someone else’s baked good intentions. Just because Christmas is around the corner doesn’t mean you have devour every frosted snowman cookie or pretend you don’t have gluten intolerance. It’s okay to pass up treats or politely say no thank you. Feel free to use this tried and true, NUTRITIONIST APPROVED WEIGHT SAVING TRICK: politely decline food or ask to take some home for later. Then ask for the recipe. The food pusher will be so gosh darn flattered, they’ll forget to pressure you into eating their treats. This works very well. Who knows, maybe you could take the recipe home and tweak it to be healthier for your next holiday shindig.
The days get packed this time of year, so take the time and make the time to do things right for you. Pack healthy snacks to take into the work place or out shopping with you to prevent decisions made out of extreme hunger. Make sure if you’re making the food, you pack it with as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Eat a healthy snack or meal at home prior to heading out to an event. Then you can have smaller portions of the treats and enjoy yourself.
Above all, don’t complain about all the holiday goodies abounding or make light of gaining weight. Think and speak only of what you do want, not what you don’t. When out to eat or drink, look for the healthiest option for you, not the least horrible option. That may seem small, but it’s life changing. Feel free to pack that with you every time you dine out.
It’s truly amazing what happens when you go into things with the mindset of thriving instead of surviving. Make this holiday season the best for you, your health, and those you love.
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