The holiday season kicked off by Thanksgiving should be one of the most enjoyable eating experiences possible.

Unfortunately for way too many people, eating during the holidays becomes a terror and anxiety-producing time of the year.  Don’t listen to some personal trainer to the stars or a meddlesome, killjoy diet guru. Here are guidelines – and a perspective – that will help get you through the end-of-the-year holidays.

My advice is actually quite simple; eat anything and everything that you want.  People who avoid foods and try to control their eating habits via externally regulated means have the most trouble during this time of the year.

People who eat sensibly – who still know what it means to eat a diet that is truly balanced – enjoy the holidays and the traditional foods that help to make this time of year so special.

If you love pumpkin pie and everything pumpkin – as I do – eat to your heart’s content or until you turn orange.  Heck, there are only a few weeks of the year that we get to enjoy this treat.  If you love Christmas cookies, knock yourself out.  Whatever variety of cookie – or every cookie – that you like, go for it.

Don’t go for the ersatz editions of the real things.  Low-fat, non-fat pumpkin pie, cakes and cookies are abominations and should be avoided at all costs.  It’s quite depressing, really.  The thought of settling for a plastic tasting reduced calorie/altered-recipe pumpkin pie, just to save a few calories, is tragic.  If you wait all year for pumpkin pie season, enjoy the experience.

And really, despite the protestations of the holiday food Grinches, the fake versions of real holiday treats, taste horrible.  For as much as I love the holiday specialties, given the choice of eating the disgusting allegedly healthy versions and eating nothing, I’d eat nothing.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re around a people or a personal trainer who tell you that they don’t eat “their issues with food.  If people can’t enjoy foods – these great, once-a-year foods – that’s a big problem, their big problem.  And it’s usually the people who are hung up with avoiding foods all year that stress at this time of year.

Stay away from these types.  And be aware of anyone who tells you that they just started a diet during the holidays.  That’s like someone going on a 3-week Caribbean cruise and deciding that it’s a good time to start avoiding the sun. You’ll no doubt encounter plenty of people who moralize about foods and put foods into the “good” and “bad” and “healthy” and “unhealthy” categories.

Ignore these “Food Scrooges” as well. Actually, avoid these people. During the holiday season, if you keep up with the daily routine that you follow all year, splurging at holiday gatherings with friends, family and business associates will not create health or weight problems.

As a matter of fact, enjoying these foods during the few weeks when they are in season, is part of maintaining healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with food. There’s no secret to enjoying holiday eating. Eat properly during the year and follow a balanced diet  – not a diet based on avoidance and fear of foods.

If you avoid foods, binge on foods, under eat, over eat or engage in any other counterproductive eating habits during the year, you will struggle during the holidays. If you’re contemplating going on a diet now, do yourself a favor and DON’T.  You’re setting yourself up to fail.

Enjoy the foods that you can eat during this time of year, make the commitment to get your nutritional house in order come January of 2008 and by this time next year you’ll be able to join those of us who enjoy this time of year for all the reasons that make it special. Those of us who aren’t afraid of foods and embrace the foods that we look forward to eating know the secrets of holiday eating and enjoy this time of year.


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