Two strawberry holiday treats are shown.
On your journey to a healthier holiday season, don’t deprive yourself of the occasional treat. Simply set reasonable goals. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Summer and fall have flown by and we find ourselves in the the holiday season.

The flashbacks plague our minds: rich goodies, overabundance of foods, regretful overeating.

But what if we could skip the regrets? We could just enjoy the holidays for what they are—a time to be thankful and celebrate.

It all starts with a plan. For the food and for the mind.

Let me assure you, putting the time into this is worth it. Here are some ways we can start preparing.

Be realistic

Throw out the notion that food eaten around the holidays doesn’t count. Overeating on a Tuesday is no different than overeating on Christmas.

Instead, set a realistic plan for each event.

  • List positive self-talk to combat rationalizing thoughts. Fight the “just-one-more-won’t-hurt” talk with “I will not regret sticking to my one, but I will regret eating too much.” Do this for each thought you can predict coming up at the event.
  • Set a goal for the quantity of allowed treats or drinks before the event.
  • Plan to bring a healthy dish with you or eat something healthy before you leave.
  • Bring some other things to do besides eat.
  • List some strategies you can use to battle overeating.
  • Show a friend or spouse your goals for accountability.

Without a plan, you can plan to fail.

If you already planned for one treat, rationalization for a second is gone. This is what we call a “no-choice” mindset. It alleviates the stress of making decisions in the moment and allows you to relax in trusting your boundaries and enjoying the event.

No better time than now

Think twice about the plan to “just start in January.” Remember the thoughts and feelings you’ve had in the past after letting loose around the holidays.

Make an honest list about the rewards of staying on track during the holidays. Read it often. It may include things like:

  • I won’t un-do all the work I’ve done through the year.
  • I’ll be more in control at parties instead of worried about my eating.
  • I’ll still fit in all my clothes.
  • I’ll be setting a good example for years to come.

Be reasonable

To say we are not going to allow any treats is not fair to ourselves. Set reasonable treat goals at parties or with work snacks as well. Set reasonable weight goals, too. It’s OK to maintain a steady weight throughout the holidays.

Start a new tradition

Just because you always made the cookies in the past doesn’t mean you can’t start bringing a healthier option. If you want to see something different, do something different.

You’re worth it

Remember you are worth it. Read that again. It’s OK to stand up against pressure, both from yourself and from your friends and families. Do what you know is healthy for you.