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Ashley’s No Guilt, Successful Holiday

Ashley’s No Guilt, Successful Holiday

By: Ashley Meyers
Nutritionist
SPECTRUM, Inc

Ashley’s No Guilt, Successful Holiday

Every week, I get the following questions, in some sort of fashion:

“What do you eat everyday?”
“How do you avoid indulgences?”
“How do you survive the holiday season?”

“Real food, I embrace them, and the season is tough for me too!”, are my straight to the point answers, respectively. The last question is always interesting to me, and a concern for many. You know that feeling we have after eating a Thanksgiving meal?…That sleepy, full, almost disgusting feeling? Well, there is a reason that we only do that once or twice a year! Thanksgiving is typically treated as a one-day holiday, with a few days following of leftovers. Then, there is Christmas….

We all know the holiday cookies make an appearance the minute that Thanksgiving is done. The holiDAY turns into a holiMONTH for many. Below, I take you through my Christmas season, to share my tips and tricks, but also to share just how human I am too.

The week leading up to Christmas was filled with temptations. Sour dough cake, Harry and David Chocolate, Almond Butter Brownies, and Fudge – these are just a few of the sweet treats that were brought to the gym the week prior to the holiday. Luckily for me, as soon as these treats are set in the break room, they seem to disappear. But, who were they handed too? Who had to take them to the break room? Who took a small piece of everything? Me!!!

Christmas Eve was spent with the family that I have in Florida. We decided to do light appetizers, rather than appetizers AND a full meal. Part of this was to keep it easy, but also to keep it light, knowing that we had another day of celebrating ahead! Justin and I spent the day prepping baked crab rangoon, shrimp and avocado spring rolls, and white bean avocado dip with zucchini and carrots. Rather than standing around the table and munching on the appetizers, we all made a plate and sat down. Always make a plate! Standing around eating is just asking for calories to be consumed, that are not enjoyed or accounted for. A piece of cheese here, a piece of cheese there – all of a sudden 8 pieces of cheese are consumed. Would you ever put 8 pieces of cheese on your small appetizer plate? Maybe, but more than likely not.

Although we all had a sweet treat after appetizers, once we were done eating, the food was put away and we spent the rest of the evening food-free. A craft beer, or two, was sipped on, but the food was out of sight, and out of mind. This is key! It is easy to mindlessly munch if the food is sitting in front of you. We did our gift exchange, and then played the game “Speak Out”. This game is ridiculously funny. If you are not familiar, you try to say different phrases while wearing a mouthpiece (that does not let you shut your mouth). After quite a bit of drool and tons of laughs, we all packed into a van and drove around looking at the neighborhood Christmas lights.

Christmas Eve was not my challenge. It was the angel on my shoulder, while Mr. Satan himself was ready to rock n roll on Christmas Day. Christmas Day was spent with Justin’s family. Justin and I started the day with a latte from Starbucks (we tipped big), followed with a few leftover crab rangoons from the night before. Yes, this is what I had for breakfast. Who ever said that breakfast has to be breakfast foods? This is a constant reminder to clients that pull the card of “Well, I don’t eat breakfast, because I don’t like breakfast foods”. Not a good enough excuse in my book! After opening our gifts to one another, we headed to his mom’s.

As we walk in, the first thing in my face (literally), was a tower of chocolate covered strawberries, cake bites, cheesecake, chocolate covered almonds…And so much more. My first thought, was to stay far away and to not even have a piece, in case it triggered a full out ‘binge’ of sweets. But then, I took a step back (literally, and figuratively) and I thought about the #1 tip that I share with my clients. Keep reading to find out what that is!

The rest of the day was filled with appetizers, a full meal, and a few more bites of dessert. I was physically full, but I was also mentally and emotionally happy. Let’s be real, we do not always eat for physical reasons. We have emotional and mental needs when it comes to food. Food is never going to go away – we do need it to survive, right? Having a healthy relationship with food involves being able to enjoy Christmas Day indulgences, without the black cloud over your head. I did NOT feel guilty about the food I enjoyed. Yes, I had much more than I needed, and probably more than I wanted too, but I enjoyed it, and I LET IT GO.

The day after Christmas, my nutrition was back to normal. “Back to normal” for me does include a small treat at some point during the day, for the record. My #1 tip is the 80/20 rule. 80% of my day is filled with clean, nutritious foods, while 20% is filled with foods that fill emotional and mental needs, also known as the “want foods”. This rule is how I was able to enjoy the treats that were brought to the gym. This rule is how I was able to enjoy the sweets at Christmas, without going into a full out “shove my face with sweets, and go into a sugar coma”.

For my workouts, I took Christmas Day off, but I did workout on Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas. I did not workout to punish myself for what I ate the day prior, just like I do not reward myself with food, after a hard workout. I worked out for my physical, and even more so, my mental health!

With the New Year’s holiday approaching fast and furious, my plan is to enjoy the 20% want foods everyday. For so many, the days between Christmas and New Year’s become a free-for-all. I encourage you to not let this happen! Enjoy the small indulgences everyday, but get back to a routine in between.

The holidays are so dear to many of us. Enjoy them. Enjoy the family time, even if crazy. Enjoy the gifts. ENJOY THE FOOD. Omit the guilt, create a healthy relationship with it, and get back on track when appropriate!

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