I've always loved the holiday season: the snow, the festivities, spending time with family, the food. Honestly, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner pretty much checks all the boxes for me. Turkey? Yep. Mashed potatoes? Definitely. Cranberry sauce? An absolute necessity. Oh, and sweet potato casserole? Yeah, I'll have five helpings.
If you're going to indulge, the holidays are the time to do it — but the older I've gotten, the more conscious I've become of this habit. I miss the days of being a child and being able to eat whatever I wanted, somehow never gaining any weight. Now, I always feel about 15 pounds heavier by the time the holiday season ends. And so, I developed this shame about overeating during the holidays. I'd tell myself that I wouldn't go back for seconds. Or I'd skip dessert. Or I would eat whatever I wanted, and then feel insanely guilty about it.
The thing is, feeling that way about food is no fun. I've experienced this type of guilt for most of my adult life, but it has gotten much worse in the past year. I've gained about 20 pounds in that time which, after maintaining a pretty consistent weight for years and years, made me feel awful and uncomfortable in my body. I began to feel guilty about every single thing I ate, until eventually I realized that this mindset wasn't sustainable, nor was I deserving of it.
Learning to accept your body doesn't happen overnight, but little shifts in my mindset have made a big difference. I can't pretend that I don't feel guilty about the things that I eat sometimes, but I make a conscious effort, way more often than not, to put foods into my body that are both good for me and that I enjoy. It would be unfair for me to then feel shame about eating foods others might see as an indulgence every now and then. So I don't.
I'm not going to gain 15 pounds from a few particularly caloric days, even though it may feel like I have in the past.
To me, the foods served up at the holidays are just food. They have calories, carbs, fat, protein — and yes, sugar — just like other foods. Sure, some of them are particularly decadent, like pumpkin pie à la mode, but I'm not eating the whole damn pie. And if I have seconds or thirds? That's perfectly fine. I'm not going to gain 15 pounds from a few particularly caloric days, even though it may feel like I have in the past. I will be OK. The pumpkin pie? It will not be OK. I will demolish it.
So, yes. You will definitely catch me going for round three during Thanksgiving dinner this holiday season — and if you want to do the same, I wholeheartedly encourage it. Or, if you're looking to watch what you eat, I'll support you in that, too. Just remember that whatever you choose to do, you know your body best. The culture we live in may try to dictate what you eat, or shame you for indulging (or not), but I won't. Enjoy the holidays, enjoy the food — and don't let anyone tell you how to celebrate.