Holiday Stuffing: Avoid Turning Celebration Stress into Regret

Posted December 2, 2012 6:23 PM


The holidays are upon us. Every year, they seem to arrive sooner. Family feasts, vacations, office parties, and gift baskets all become reasons to toast, dine, and snack. Loneliness, family battles, shopping and planning stresses can all turn into triggers that prompt over-feeding (or perhaps even starving) ourselves.

“I’ll get back into my exercise and/or healthy eating routine after the new year,” is that hopeful mantra we all chant as we’re downing that extra handful of brightly colored candies or making that second trip to the buffet for that yummy pecan pie.

If we want to maintain our health, self-esteem, and energy this holiday season, our mantra needs to be instead, “I will plan and splurge a bit…but not stuff!”

I have always had a battle keeping my own weight in check. At family celebrations, we ate when we were happy, we ate when we were bored, we ate because our relatives kept heaping extra food on our plates and we didn’t want to hurt their feelings. “Mood food” took on a whole new meaning. But the result of all those celebrations was a different type of emotion – regret and frustration – when those extra digits glared back at me on the scale in January and I had to take those “fat jeans” out of the back of my closet.

I no longer obsess over the number on the scale, but I'm mindful of how much more energetic, clear, and healthy I feel when I’m eating clean and saving my treats for truly irresistible food and beverages.

Here are some simple tips for avoiding holiday over-indulgence:

* Make a plan for the day/week of the celebration. If you know you’re going to want to eat with (controlled) abandon at a party or dinner, watch what you’re putting into your mouth and stomach in the days and hours leading up to the event. A treat day is preferable to a treat week -- or month! Choose your treats carefully and, as you’re eating something “dangerous,” ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?”

*Be mindful of those triggers (lack of sleep, family feuds, too many obligations, loneliness or boredom) that serve as excuses for overeating. Ask yourself, “Am I eating because I’m really hungry, because this food is really amazing, or because I’m ‘feeding some gap’ in my life or mood.”

*Take some time to relax during the holidays – meditate, exercise, get your hair done, or get a massage. All of those things can be treats too.

*And if you do over-indulge at some point, do not beat yourself up or feel ashamed or angry. Resolutions are not reserved exclusively for January 1st. Each second of our lives is full of new choices and new beginnings. Let’s all toast to that!


Nancy A. Shenker is the founder and CEO of theONswitch®, a New York-based marketing company and nunumedia, a publishing venture she launched in 2010 with a line of business comic books.  Her latest book, with Lindsay E. Brown, is a guide for young women entering the working world, entitled “Don’t Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Career Secrets for 20-Somethings.”  Nancy was formerly a marketing executive at Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions.  She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and New York University’s publishing program.  She conducts workshops and webinars on personal branding, social media, public relations, and e-marketing.

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