On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Forgiving Yourself for a Holiday Overindulgence

Oh, the weather outside is frightful and the fridge in the breakroom is so delightful. We know it’s tough to eat healthy when your co-workers won’t stop bringing treats to the office. For many people trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle, the sugary holiday season can cause some stress. 

Many people feel guilty when they overeat or binge on sweets. How do you deal with these feelings in a healthy way? While it’s okay to be mindful of what you’re eating, it’s possible to be overly anxious about your diet.

Take a deep breath. You can make it through the holidays, indulgences and all, with a little planning and self-care.

Obstacles During the Holidays

Lack of time for meal prep and exercise can make the holiday season stressful, especially if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight.

“Planning nutritious meals for the week and finding time to exercise are the first things to go during the busy holiday season,” says Meagan Ballard, a registered dietitian at INTEGRIS. “Exposure is another huge obstacle. There aren’t many times of the year where you can constantly find homemade baked goods in the office every single day.”

Ballard says the foods we often find at parties and gatherings are foods we don’t eat on a daily basis, like Christmas cookies or creamy cheeseballs. This can make them even more tempting. As we treat ourselves more and move less, it can be easier to put on a few pounds. This can cause stress. Thankfully, a little planning can prevent this.

Tricks for Treating Yourself Responsibly

“Around the holidays, it’s all about balance and planning. If your goal is to maintain or even lose weight over the holidays, you’ll have to make adjustments,” Ballard says.

Write down your goals and plan ahead for parties where indulging is likely. Leading up to and after these gatherings, try to eat well-balanced meals and exercise.

“Make sure you are moving your body and get some physical activity. Not only does physical activity make you feel better, but also it can help you curb off some holiday weight gain,” Ballard says.

You can get family and friends involved. Plan holiday activities that get everybody moving, like a walk around the neighborhood to take in Christmas lights or a game of tag football in the backyard. 

holiday healthy eating infographic

Forgive Yourself and Move on After Overindulging

If you have a few pieces of your grandmother’s famous pumpkin pie after Christmas dinner, you may feel pangs of guilt. It’s normal to feel this way. Ballard says this can be caused by the way many people think about food.

“It’s somewhat normal to feel some guilt or stress around eating during the holidays. This happens when we start to associate certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ We are programmed to think this way,” she says. “In articles, videos and magazines, we constantly see certain foods labeled as bad. We start to associate guilt with eating this food.”

Moderation is key with our favorite holiday foods.  As long you aren’t repeatedly over-consuming treats, a few indulgences won’t wreck your long-term health.

“We all know that chocolate cake isn’t the most nutritious option to eat daily; however, chocolate cake isn’t necessarily bad,” Ballard says.

Simply put, the world isn’t going to end if you have a few of Santa’s cookies. The best thing to do after overindulging is simply get back on track as soon as you can. Eat nutritious food and prioritize time for exercise.

If you don’t know how to start, speak with a registered dietitian, who can help make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to fuel your body for all your New Year’s adventures.

Talk Out Your Anxiety if You’re Struggling

While a little guilt is normal, high anxiety or panicked feelings about food may indicate a more serious problem. If your anxiety is lingering after the holidays, it’s okay to seek help. 

“Anyone can benefit from nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian, especially if you feel you have disordered eating patterns to talk through,” says Ballard.

 

 

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