Don’t just survive the holidays… enjoy them!

I know as a dietitian I’m supposed to be writing posts right now along the lines of “10 strategies to survive the holidays”. But to be honest, I really don’t like that wording choice and don’t even agree with some of the suggestions those kinds of articles offer.

I mean, the whole concept of “surviving” the holidays just takes away from their whole meaning. The holidays aren’t something to survive. They’re not a huge battle for which we need to design a game plan. They’re a time to enjoy. A time to spend time with your friends and family, go to parties, have fun picking out the perfect gifts, bake shortbread cookies from your Nana’s recipe, and watch cheesy Christmas movies. The fact that the media makes people feel like they have to fight to survive the holidays turns it into a time of stress rather than a time of joy.

Nana's shortbread cookies

I’m not saying that some of these articles don’t have a valid point. Because yes, it’s true that the holidays provide many opportunities to eat calorie dense and low nutrient foods. And indulging at every opportunity would be good for neither our health nor our waistlines. However, part of the fun of the holidays includes enjoying these treats.

My personal outlook is that we should choose things that contribute to our enjoyment. If eating something will contribute to your enjoyment, eat it. If not, skip it. Personally I don’t care for packaged cookies from the grocery store bakery, so I skip them. Likewise, eating a treat at a work event doesn’t have any special meaning to me and wouldn’t make a difference in my enjoyment of the holidays, so I might skip that as well. But eating one of my favourite cookies freshly baked out of the oven after an afternoon of baking with my family is part of what enjoying the holidays means to me. And potluck dinners with my friends are another one of my favourite holiday activities, so I choose to fully enjoy the food at those as well.

Molasses cookies

My point is that while the holidays are not a time to go crazy with overindulging, you also shouldn’t restrict yourself from what you love about this time of year. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about how many treats you didn’t eat  – it’s about how much you enjoyed the holidays.

Don’t forget to enter my big holiday giveaway! You have until this Friday December 19th at 9 am EST to enter. Open to those living in Canada and the US only.

24 Comments

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24 Responses to Don’t just survive the holidays… enjoy them!

  1. “Because at the end of the day, it’s not about how many treats you didn’t eat – it’s about how much you enjoyed the holidays.” <- Probably lame but this last sentence just summed up my thoughts on the holidays.
    It wasn't always like this. I've been to both extremes before – going way overboard versus being super-conscious and restricting myself from most dishes I craved – and in the end the middle is always best. I feel if a balanced healthy lifestyle has become natural for us in anyway the holidays aren't that difficult to navigate in anyway. The only 'problem' I occasionally feel is the outside pressure – mostly from colleagues – that make saying no to a cookie look like an outsider. Such is life.

  2. Well said girl! I skip all of those surviving the holidays articles. They say the same thing and don’t really help in my opinion but they do take away from the joy and happiness that this season is about! I love this take on things!

  3. I totally agree with you! I plan on enjoying some of my favorite Christmas treats and enjoying the chaos that comes with holiday plans :)

  4. I agree! I wrote a post JUST like this last year and it still holds true! These special times only come once a year and we shouldn’t be so focused on ‘surviving’ them that we forget to really embrace them!

  5. I wrote a similar post to this today and I couldn’t agree more, Chelsea! How did one of the most joyous times of the year suddenly also become the most dreaded?? Rather than fixate how to fit in a workout or eat “clean”, we are better off using that energy towards connecting with friends and family and making memories…these opportunities are rare!!

  6. I couldn’t agree more with your outlook. It makes total sense to be cautious but at the same time we spend so much time trying not to overindulge too much that we forget to enjoy the moment itself and what is more important memories or 5 pounds.

  7. I feel like the “game plan” mentality is what gets people in trouble in the first place. That and putting food on a pedestal. I mean, sure, there’s a tonne of delicious food around at this time of the year that we don’t normally have, but that’s just one small part of the holidays, and if we spend too much time focusing on that and how to “survive” the holidays, then we really miss out on what the holidays are really about. Great post, girl!

    • Chelsea

      I’ll admit food is a pretty large focus of holidays in my family but only because it is a platform for spending time together. It’s like a vehicle for enjoying the important aspects of the holidays!

  8. I agree whole heartedly. This is pretty much my food philosophy year round, whether the holidays are happening or I’m on vacation. I don’t deny myself at every twist and turn and I generally don’t go overboard either. Living this way means I don’t see these events as an opportunity to go buck wild or shy away.

    Also holidays are meant to be a happy time, not a stress filled time. If you’re not able to enjoy the moment, you’re probably not doing something right.

    • Chelsea

      I’m with you – moderation is my motto year round! So eating over the holidays feels no different than eating any other time.

      Hope you had a Merry Christmas! :)

  9. Amen girl!!!I wrote a similar post around Thanksgiving time. It’s about enjoying the time with family, and all the food and drinks that come with it!

  10. I agree 100%!! I have pretty much the same guidelines — I won’t go after store bought cookies, etc. but there are some things that I just have to have. My grandmothers apple pie, the chocolate truffles that I make every year — there’s no way I’ll pass these up just to save a few calories!

  11. Totally agree that this is a time to enjoy, but it IS one of the most stressful times of the year for me. I wish I had the mindset that I should just enjoy eating the cookies that I bake… Not there yet. I’m working on it, though!

  12. So I bought a $1 advent calendar because I wanted chocolate….it’s cheap chocolate and not good quality but I’m still going to eat it ;)

    I have to echo Meg (and I think also your general thoughts) but this is pretty much how I eat all the time except when I go on baking binges and then ‘have to’ have cookies for breakfast. No food goes to waste.

    • Chelsea

      Yep, balance is my motto year round! Or at least I aim for it. Like you said, sometimes life is heavy on the treats. But I like to argue that still fits in the definition of balance. ;)

  13. So perfect. This is how I live through the holidays – life is too short to restrict yourself the pleasures of life.

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