The holiday season is here, and if you’re like me, you just finished over-stuffing yourself during Thanksgiving. You may have rationalized an extra slice of pie, and the next two after that with one concept: “It’s Bulking Season.” It’s the time of the year when (depending on where you live) your shirt doesn’t come off in a public setting, puffy jackets can hide those extra slices of dessert, and bulking becomes an excuse to put on unnecessary weight.
DISCLAIMER: I am not in any way, shape, or form discouraging you from eating what you want this holiday season! Enjoy the holidays in their entirety—sweets and all!
Instead what I want to encourage you to do is maintain a healthy relationship with your body and your food all year round. An unhealthy relationship with these things often leads to moments of weakness and frustration in which we may either binge eat or avoid food altogether.
Have you ever been so dissatisfied with your body that you gave up and self-destructed? I can personally account for nights where the mirror seemed to add 10 lbs. My only coping method was to eat everything I’d been avoiding because obviously the diet wasn’t working. Many times, days where I would avoid food altogether follow these nights of binge eating. I call this a balanced system of extremes. Instead of focusing on extremes, we need to be perfecting a system of moderation.
How can we enjoy the foods we like without going overboard? I think the answer to this lies in our diet as it pertains to our lifestyle. Are we feeding our cravings enough? Are we completely depriving ourselves of the foods we want most? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then it's not surprising at all that we would look to the holidays as a period in which the rules don’t apply. We need to understand that the rules always apply . . . BUT the rules aren’t depriving in nature!
In 2017, Thanksgiving was a bit different for me than years past. I used to restrict my diet heavily in the 20 weeks leading up to the chance to pig out guilt-free. Of course, this meant that I would take FULL advantage of my cheat meal and eat way more than I ever wanted on Thanksgiving day! The balance system of extremes always then ensued. Thanksgiving 2017 was the first that I can remember eating until I was full but being satisfied at that point. I didn’t feel the need to eat as much as I could because of the idea, “I only have this meal to eat what I want.” The holiday bloating and fat gains have been kept at a minimum thus far, and I attribute it to a healthy mindset going into the holiday!
I encourage all of you to start allowing yourself to eat the foods that you want on a regular basis! It is important to have a diet of balanced moderation. Some may know this as an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) diet. I am an avid believer in this form of dieting. Rather than getting into the science and specifics behind it, I’d like to point out the mental benefits it has given me.
If I crave a brownie, then I eat a brownie. It’s one of the simplest concepts which is often difficult for people to understand. I simply eat less of another food that day to balance things out.
It’s because I no longer deprive myself of certain foods that I view the holidays with a much healthier mindset. I can now look at them as they are intended to be looked at: days of celebration, company, and joy! I don’t look forward to holidays for the sole reason of indulgence or to eat what I usually deprive myself of because I know that I can do that year-round! Bulking season doesn’t have to inconveniently take place in a season of binge eating but during a season of celebration.
With everything said, please, if you want to pig out, do it! If you legitimately love the holidays for the food, then enjoy! There is a massive difference in someone who overeats because that is how they like to celebrate and someone who doesn’t get to eat food like that normally. Eat the food, and then get right back to your goals the next day. Do not fall into the trap of trying to balance out your diet day by day to reverse what you’ve done. Own it, and be content with it!
I hope that everyone benefits from this mindset. I’m currently enjoying this holiday season a little more than previous years because of a system of moderation. I may binge eat this Christmas, and then again, I may not. The point is, no matter what I choose, I will be guilt-free. I hope that everyone celebrates their holidays to the fullest. Just remember, food choices don’t have to be followed with guilt.