Although most of us got rid of our Christmas trees quite a while ago and went back to work with such intensity that the last holidays are only a distant memory, I still wonder why we struggle year after year to eat reasonably and to keep our resolutions. I cannot pretend that I have found the right answer, but I believe I have some interesting insights to share.
Holidays: A Recipe for Moderation
How many years in a row have you told yourself that you ate too much on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve? Of course we are all happy to be sitting around the table with our dear ones. Of course there is too much food on the table and nobody wants to waste it. Of course those big meals only take place once or twice a year. But still, why do we keep repeating the same mistake over and over again?
Part of the answer may rest in the following: the holiday season is usually a little break from our hectic lifestyles when we somehow think we can massively pull the plug. All of those greasy things we do not eat the rest of the year (in Québec, it is mostly turkey with gravy, tourtière, ragoût de pattes, etc.) abound, and eating is all we really have to do since Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners are the main drivers of family reunions during the holidays. But nobody enjoys the feeling of being stuffed that inevitably comes at the end of the meal.
Last Christmas, I decided I would not allow myself to feel that way again, because the feeling is so uncomfortable and because eating too much puts me in idle mode.
How did I succeed? Well, I allowed myself to taste almost everything I wanted to, but I took the time to savour every single bite. I knew that if I were to try my aunt’s sucre à la crème (the richest, most high-caloric dessert in Quebec’s cookbook), I would only allow myself one or two squares. Thus I ate at a reasonable pace, thereby devouring less food but at the same time feeling a more comfortable satiety than I had experienced in previous years.
Taking the time to appreciate food is probably the way we should approach gastronomy year round. If we allowed ourselves to eat the food we like regularly, but in reasonable quantities, we would be healthier and feel better. When the holiday season came around we would be less inclined toward excessive eating because the habit of moderation and the comfortable feeling that goes along with it would have been well established.
After we’ve eaten and drunk too much and exercised less than the minimum required to avoid having to undertake a diet on January 2, many if us make New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions often turn out to be the same year in and year out: “I’m going to lose weight,” “I will exercise more,” “I intend to stop wasting time on the Internet,” “I’m going to eat better,” and the like.
Why are New Year’s resolutions pretty much the same every year? Because they aren’t kept! And why are they not kept? Because they often necessitate lifestyle changes so big and so drastic that they quickly deter anyone from sticking to them! Imagine that you are used to eating junk food every single day of the week and then, out of the blue, make it a personal goal to eat salad from Monday to Friday. How long will you resist throwing away the bowl full of greens that your lover tenderly prepared for you in the morning and go get that burger at your favourite junk-food place instead?
But if you incrementally allow sane behaviours to become daily habits, you will gradually get used to the change so that you will feel and enjoy the good it does to your body and soul. Keeping your goals realistic will allow you not only to feel proud of yourself for achieving them but will change your initial goals into habits without your noticing: frightening and constraining New Year’s resolutions will only be bad memories. And allowing yourself little treats year round is the best way to ensure you will resist giving up on your resolution and avoid destructive habits that stem from suppressed frustration.
Even though I am the first person to admit that what I have written here is quite simplistic and may not suit everyone, it has been working for me in many areas of my life. I believe that adopting flexible, sane ways of living year round is a healthy way to avoid seeing the holiday season as a free ticket to excess and the post-holiday season as a military training camp.
Guest Author Bio
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger for Desmeules Hyundai that offers the brand new Hyundai Elantra 2013. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.