I see people struggle this time of year with wanting to eat all the goodies available, and maintaining their health and fitness levels. Oh, and weight! It’s true, most of us cannot be skinny mini’s and eat all the junk in the world. We have to make choices. And even if you dive in and pretend to just let it happen to you, you are still making a choice. So why not enjoy the goodies AND make empowering choices?! Can you do that? Sure, why not!

Here’s something to look at first. While we definitely relate our weight with our intake of food, I have noticed that people in general do not relate their intake of food to their energy levels. So then, even if you have some crazy metabolism and don’t gain weight with a dozen cookies, you will still feel your energy levels drop. And when your energy drops, your mood drops. You get cranky. If you eat crap all the time, you end up miserable. And what is the first and foremost goal if not to be happy? If you are thin but not happy, what is the point?

People find themselves in general more tired this time of year and end up compensating with caffeine or just miserably trying to push through. Or they are forced by their bodies to take naps even if they REALLY want to be doing something else.

This happens because their food intake is not providing them with quality calories. What do I mean by that?

All calories are NOT created equal. You can eat a bagel, which has 245 calories, or you can eat a mixed green salad with chicken and cucumbers for the same amount of calories. Since the bagel has basically no nutritional value, you end up feeling depleted of energy. Within 30 minutes of eating the bagel, you might feel the need to go lay down, which just might not fit into your schedule, so then you end up consuming caffeine.

But for the same calories with the mixed green salad, you will have plenty of energy to do the things you want to do and not feel tired.

An extra bonus of the green salad is that, since it has nutrients, your body knows what to do with it. It processes the food and you’re on your way. With the bagel, it sort of just sits there. It makes you feel heavier and, um, yes if you make this choice regularly, you will gain weight.

Now I know we are talking about the holidays, so let’s think of cookies or pie instead of a bagel. When you eat these at party after family gathering after party (etc), you wind up tired and you gain weight. And there is much of this junk available this time of year.

So what am I suggesting? To ignore all the yummy treats at your holiday parties and bring your salad to go in a lunchbox? Haha. Yes, I suppose you could do that. I wouldn’t. I happen to like the yummy treats.

What I DO suggest is that IF you are going to eat the yummy treats, make a conscious decision to do so. What I mean is don’t just eat it because it’s there. Take a moment and ask yourself these three questions:

1- Will you mind when you are falling over tired in 30 minutes?

2- Will you mind if you gain a few pounds?

3- Is it worth it and do you really want it?

If, after you ask yourself these questions (write them on a sticky and keep them in your bag, or schedule an alert to yourself on your phone in the middle of the party) you still want the treats, then GO FOR IT!! You have made a conscious decision to eat the stuff. It’s not ‘happening’ to you, you have chosen it and so you have put yourself in an empowered position. But do yourself a favor and really enjoy it. It’s not worth it if you are just going to feel guilty later. Then you’ve wasted the food and the experience.

Here’s how I enjoy the treats during the Holidays. I focus on the abundance of ALL the food that is available, not just the ‘treats’. I put my attention on all the healthy food I am eating. If I want a yummy piece of pie, then I allow it. If I don’t, I find that pretty soon I’m craving a WHOLE pie, and that’s no good. So better to allow a little bit in here and there. When there’s a party I eat whatever is healthy first. If there’s room for a cookie afterwards, I’ll eat it. I also acknowledge that I’ll be tired soon, and plan accordingly for that. And whatever I consume, I fully enjoy. These are just some of the things that I do.

I also remember that this abundance of goodies is not the norm. I may gain a few pounds in December, but it comes off in January (and NO I do not have an amazing metabolism). I just go back to my norm of healthy eating and lots of exercise. Ok, I’m off to go get ready for a holiday party now!

I’m curious about what YOU do, how do you handle food this time of year? Share your comments below.

Your Fitness Coach,

Miranda Zukowski