By Callie McBride
So, I have this little problem…its called American holidays. Don’t get me wrong-I love dressing up, getting together with family and friends, and celebrating the day. But, as passionate as I am about health and fitness, the idea of centering the entire get-together around junk food and sweets doesn’t sit right with me.
Unfortunately, that’s what is served at most of the holiday parties I have attended in my nineteen years. Halloween is a dangerously sugary nightmare, Christmas calls for cookies on cookies, and the 4th of July means hot dogs, burgers, beer, and cream puffs, if you hail from the Midwest. What can we say? We’re Americans; we love our food. But must every holiday turn into a healthy-eating-out-the-window, “Don’t judge me,” day long free-for-all? Not for me.
Handling holidays isn’t easy, especially with the wrong mindset. I’ve always wanted to keep my fitness and health progress up during parties and celebrations, but my efforts never worked out. Whether it was rejecting all food until I eventually caved, or foolishly eating only lettuce the whole night, here’s a little look back to past holidays that haven’t fared so well for me:
Thanksgiving ’10: I joined my goofball brothers and ate nothing the whole day in an attempt to “save room” in my stomach for all the incredible food to be had that night…the result was a terrible post-meal stomach ache that lasted for hours, as well as a particularly large food baby.
Valentine’s Day ’11: I attended a v-day party that was littered with non-vegan desserts; since I hadn’t planned ahead of time and eaten, I got home later and inhaled most of the contents my refridgerator. So frustrating!
Fourth of July ’11: Keeping my previous holiday mistakes in mind, I decided to allow myself to let myself go, enjoy the patriotic day, and join in on the food-noshing fun. However, my “free day” went a little too far: Eating. all. day. long.
A handful of messy holiday parties later, I finally stepped back and realized how obnoxious I was being. I spent too much time trying not to ruin my diet, only to do just that! The one common thread between all of my mistakes was this: I had changed my eating habits for the entire day. I didn’t stick to my regular meal plan, in an effort to counteract the tempting treats that parties inevitably bring, which led to failure. So to nix this vice once and for all, I made things simple. Don’t change! Everyone handles food differently; some stick to planned meals, some dig around in their pantry for whatever is around, others mainly eat out. Whatever works for you, stick with it-even on holidays. My advice is that you don’t make the same stupid mistakes I used to. Be mindful!
Now, on every holiday, I eat exactly as I would if it were just another weekday, but I make sure to replace one of the meals with a meal at my event. This way I don’t go crazy watching everyone else eat, and I am able to relax and enjoy myself. If it’s a daytime cookout, I’ll bring the fruit or hummus platter and munch on that. If its a nighttime dinner, I’ll provide some roasted veggies. A cupcake bash? I’ve got my own mini vegan treats on hand! By bringing my own dishes to share, I can stick to healthy eating but also join in on the foodie fun. If you’re headed to a Fourth of July fireworks outing and want to bring a last-minute dish, any one of the pictured healthy spreads (vegan whip is the best!) look awesomely festive and will keep your weight-loss progess in check.