The holiday season and cookies are like mornings and coffee for me. I enjoy starting my day with good coffee. I grind the beans myself and enjoy the aromatics as the coffee brews. For this analogy, you can replace “mornings and coffee” with your perfect pairings like “evenings and a sunset” or “movies and popcorn.” You get it.
Season of stress
The festive season can be stressful. We rush into crowded stores to get the “perfect” presents, we set high expectations for family parties, and we put a lot of our energy into planning and organizing. Setting the bar high for ourselves makes the season overwhelming and we find ourselves disappointed when something goes wrong.
If we are trying to eat healthily and avoid desserts, the season is even more stressful. We get so hung up on avoiding temptations, that we forget to appreciate what the season is really about — spending quality time with the people we love.
Our bodies don’t function properly in times of high stress. When our stress hormones are high, our fat metabolism can’t function properly.
Be kind to yourself
As a nutritionist, I’m telling you to enjoy some cookies during the holiday season. I know that this might sound surprising. You might say, “Aren’t you a nutritionist?” Or, “Aren’t cookies are full of sugar, fat, and calories?”
My answer: Yes. But, health and well-being are not just about the food we eat.
Being healthy is more than exercise and eating right
In my time as a nutritionist, I have worked with individuals who followed their meal plans 100%. They cooked healthy meals every day and exercised almost every day. They didn’t indulge in treats at all. Theoretically, they were doing everything right. But, the theory doesn’t always work. Sometimes, these individuals didn’t experience a change in weight until they started being more gentle with themselves.
I’ve also worked with clients who didn’t stick to their meal plan 100%. They loved to socialize — so they did. They would often experience weight loss before the clients who followed strict meal plans. Seems backward, right?
Well, no. Any journey should be enjoyable, especially a journey that is health or weight loss related. Social interaction is critical for mental and physical health. And, it so happens, that most social interaction is centered around food.
A review published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that “social isolation is on a par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death.” The Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported that “dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems and live longer.”
For those seeking health, it’s not enough to focus on eating your veggies and getting regular exercise. Don’t forget to connect and enjoy life.
Consciousness and moderation are the keys
Have you ever heard of the French paradox? The French have relatively low cases of coronary heart disease and are considered to be amongst the healthiest people even though they enjoy frequent baguette, cheese, and wine.
How is this possible? The French take their time when it comes to cooking and eating. They usually don’t eat when rushed which means they don’t take their pastry to-go. They sit down and enjoy their food. Also, mealtime is often a time to gather with family and friends for conversation, meaning that they tend not to overeat.
I love this philosophy. This is one of the reasons why we offer a variety of meals at 8fit. Restricting yourself doesn’t work long-term. To clarify, I’m not telling you to stop eating healthy foods. Eating well is important and contributes to overall health. Moderation is the key to success.
If you are consistent with your meals all week long, treat yourself and don’t feel bad about it. Enjoy it your treat by eating your food slowly and consciously.
Moral of the story
This holiday season, put on the holiday music, select delicious cookies recipes to bake, cook with your loved ones, and then enjoy the fresh-baked cookies together. Make spending quality time with the important people in your life a priority.