December 8, 2011

A Non-survival Guide to Holiday Eating. ~ Maureen Chura


“… we elves try to stick to the four main food groups, candy, candy cane, candy corn, and syrup …” ~ Buddy the Elf

Ah, holiday season. It’s a time for decked halls, trimmed trees and an abundance of articles on how to keep your diet on track through this period of over-indulgence.

As a Pilates instructor and Integrative Nutrition student, I am often asked how I personally manage to control my eating during the holidays. Quite frankly, I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it has taken me years to let go of the obsessive calorie counting and junk food phobia to actually enjoy the holidays. However, as much as I try to avoid refined sugars in my daily life, I have learned to let my guard down a bit during the holidays.

Here is a secret I will let the chronic calorie restrictors in on: It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the sugar cookie, the brownie and the few glasses of Baileys you may enjoy at a holiday party do not mean much. Sure you might be a pound or two heavier in the new year and you may have to do the walk of shame to yoga class when you wake up the next morning, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.

What matters are our daily habits. What we reach for when we come home from work each night is far more important than what we reach for at the office holiday


party.  Our relationship with food in our daily lives has a greater impact on our overall health than whether or not we choose to indulge in sweets during holiday season.

What matters is what is going in our heads.  Are you going to go off the deep end if you have that second cookie? Are you going to be ridden with guilt, fear and shame? If so, then perhaps you have given that cookie far too much power. Food has no intrinsic moral compass.  This may be hard to believe, but there really is no “good food” or “bad food.” It’s just food.  By allowing food to send us into an emotional tailspin, we have assigned it a value and a power that is greater than the value we have assigned to ourselves.

What matters is social nourishment. That’s right, nourishment.

I cannot begin to tell you how many social events and opportunities I missed during my obsessive calorie counting years. Why is it we as women know things like the RDA of Selenium yet completely miss the boat when it comes to finding nourishment from self-care?

Spending time with loved ones and participating in holiday events are activities that sustain us and feed our souls. To enjoy the company of friends and family is to live an authentic life.  To not be present in that experience because we are so consumed over the lack of healthy snacks is to starve our spirit.

So, over the next few weeks when you are inundated with an abundance of sweets, I say belly up to the dessert bar. I look forward to seeing you there.

Maureen is a full-time email marketer, part-time Pilates and TRX instructor, and haphazard meditator (though she promises to work on that).  She is currently studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Maureen owns eat.bend.breathe wellness studio in Philadelphia where she resides with her husband/editor Justin and her dog Tonka. She can be found on Facebook or reached by email at [email protected].

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