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How to enjoy your holiday cookies without giving up on your health goals

Health Coaching at Well Within
by Allison Nichols, Holistic Health Coach
The holidays come around once a year. They’re a time for celebrating family and friends, for practicing gratitude for all that you have…and for indulging in your favorite holiday treats.  They only come around once a year after all.

Social life gets busy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—lots of office parties, friend’s holiday parties and family get-togethers take over your calendar.  You can guarantee that there will be holiday cookies at these parties. Holiday cookies, stuffing, baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows, chocolates, candies in holiday colors, Yule logs…fruit cake: you name it and I bet you’ll come in contact with it at one point over the holiday season.

During the holidays we’re constantly confronted by sweet treats and constantly needing to make the decision of whether to eat them or not. If you have health or weight loss goals, I’m sure that you already dread the thought of making that decision over and over again.

Do I eat the cookies or not?

Do I treat myself or stay on my diet?

You may be thinking that if you eat the cookies, you might as well forget about your health goals— that you can’t be healthy AND eat sugar cookies.

What if I told you that you CAN enjoy your holiday cookies while still working your way toward your health goals  You’d probably say I was crazy.

But you really CAN have cookies and still make progress toward your goals. It’s all about finding a balance between holiday cookies and healthy whole foods.

Here are 5 tips to ENJOY your holiday cookies (or fruit cakes, Yule logs, and stuffing) and still make progress toward your goals.

Be prepared.   If you know you’re going to a holiday party, prepare yourself. If you know that you’re going to be tempted by cookies and sweets, take some time before you go to think about a strategy. And by strategy, I mean think about what cookie you will eat.  Focus on special treats that you can ONLY get at this time of the year. Will you have Aunt Mabel’s gingerbread cookies because she only makes one batch a year? Or will you have some of your cubicle-mate’s pfeffernüsse because they’re special and homemade? Focus on enjoying cookies that you can ONLY get during the holidays.

Make a conscious decision.  Once you get to the party and have targeted your cookie of choice, make the conscious decision to eat it. Even though you went into the party with that cookie in mind, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it. A healthy balanced lifestyle is ALL about making conscious choices when it comes to food. Make the conscious choice to have that cookie, and then, if you want another one, make another conscious decision to have a second.  Lots of things change when you take the time to stop and really think about that cookie. Just make sure that you’re making a conscious choice from a loving, nurturing place and not from a self-defeating, negative  place.

Give yourself permission to enjoy that cookie. Give yourself permission to relax. To break your food rules. You have the right to eat whatever you want over the holiday season as long as you make the conscious decision to enjoy the experience.  Some cookies over the holiday season will definitely not affect whether or not you reach your health or weight loss goals. Yes, it might take a bit longer than you expect, but all good, permanent changes take longer than you expect.

Eat lots of healthy whole foods between cookies. Getting lots of whole foods—vegetables, fruits, protein, and healthy fats—during the holiday season will ultimately set you up for success. Eating healthy whole foods the majority of the time will make eating cookies easier both mentally and physically. Center your meals around some high quality protein, vegetables (especially the dark green leafy kind) and healthy fats.  Keeping the sugar to a minimum between cookies will help you bounce back more quickly.

Get Support. The holidays can be a really hard time of year for those of us with health and weight loss goals. If you know that you struggle during the holiday season, reach out for support now. A health coach is a wonderful partner to have during the holidays to lift you up, hold you accountable and to support you to make healthy choices for yourself most of the time.

Now that you have these 5 tips, you’ll definitely feel better about eating those cookies this holiday season. Don’t forget to eat lots of whole foods, to be mindful,  and, most importantly, to enjoy yourself!

Allison NicholsAllison is a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor. She specializes in working with individuals to cultivate a carefree relationship with food, and to have more vibrant, natural energy by transitioning to a whole food diet.