In the United States, we have come to the "thankful" portion of the year.
As the days grow shorter and colder, we stay indoors more — and eat. Holidays during this time of year focus on food, even more than in other times of the year. Indulgence is seen as a right, if not an obligation.
How do we find a healthy, happy medium?
Here are a few ideas:
First of all, recognize that you will indulge. Whether it's the cookies that remind you of the holidays at home, or the special brisket your mom makes, you will eat it. And that's not a bad thing. Eating is more than food consumption: it's socialization, celebration, experimentation (if you try something new). Food can be an important part of our lives. Be honest about your activities, and set your expectations accordingly.
Do not refuse yourself every single indulgence. Give yourself permission to have a taste or small portion of the items you like the most. Set a reasonable limit — one cookie, for example, or a small piece of pie — then allow yourself only that item or two.
Choose indulgences carefully: if this is the only time of year your friend makes that rockin' fruitcake (it could happen!), then skip the chocolate chip cookies they bake on a regular basis.
Schedule your indulgences when possible. On a day you plan to splurge, eat lighter and choose nutritionally dense but lower calorie foods.
Do not start a restrictive diet this time of year (unless instructed to do so by a trusted, licensed physician). Forbidden foods have a way of winding up in your system, sometimes in greater quantities, as soon as you deny yourself. As soon as you "can't" have something, it becomes more desirable.
If you plan a social event this season, don't build it around food. Plan an activity that includes a little exercise or movement. Have an ice skating party that just happens to include hot cocoa and your world-famous blondies. Go caroling in your neighborhood, then top off the evening with hot cider.
Exercise. No matter how busy you get, always include this in your day. Every bit helps, even a stolen half-hour with your pilates DVD. Park further away from the shopping center or restaurant (but in a well-lit, well-traveled area of the parking lot). Spend part of your lunch break on a brisk walk along a safe route. You don't have to run a marathon to receive the benefits of exercise, but you have to put in some time and effort.
These are just a few ideas to help you keep your holiday indulgence under control. What do you do that has worked for you?