Using Holidays As An Excuse

Stores in my town have had a constant flow of holiday candy since September of last year. First it was Halloween candy, then the Christmas candy appeared, then Valentine’s candy, and now Easter candy is everywhere.

These holidays just keep coming around year after year, and I know how tempting it is to use an upcoming holiday as an excuse to either put off your diet or go off your diet.

While a piece of candy or cake will not a diet ruin, there are many people who do let holidays get in the way of their weight loss efforts.

I have had people tell me, “Well, it’s Easter week so I’m just going to eat whatever I want and then get started later.” Other people tell me that they love Hershey or Cadbury eggs so much that their Easter just wouldn’t be complete without having a bag or two around. Still other people start off with the best of intentions but let the abundance of treats and candy derail them.

That was me for a lot of years. I’d tell myself that I was going to be “good” through Easter or whatever holiday was approaching, but I’d soon find myself making excuses for buying candy, eating bunny cupcakes by the half dozen, or baking a lamb cake for “the family.” (Really though, the family had three small pieces and I worked through the rest of the little lamb cake.)

My excuses ranged from “they only sell Cadbury eggs at Easter” to “I’ve been “good”on my diet for a whole month and I deserve a break.”

I found that once I took a “break” from my diet to celebrate a holiday with food, I was very unlikely to get back on track for quite some time. Instead of allowing myself a planned indulgence and continuing on my diet, I kept allowing myself indulgences until the memories of my previous diet attempt were distant and faded.

So how do you get through the holidays without getting off track?

Here are a few tips I recommend (and use) and I hope you will add some of your own.

1.  Decide in advance what holiday foods are and are not coming into your home.

Easter baskets for the kids do not get purchased or filled until the Saturday night before Easter. I used to buy Easter candy when it first appeared in the store and ate bag after bag before the actual day. This was not good. Now, we buy any candy on Saturday I choose not to fill the eggs. Why? Because I know that even after all these years of maintenance, those little chocolate eggs still tempt me and I don’t want to feel tempted. (And before you judge – we do give the kids Easter candy and that’s a decision that each family has to make for themselves. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me! 🙂 )

I make one dessert for our Easter lunch. I usually make something very small like cheesecake bites or cake balls shaped like tiny Easter eggs. A little taste works just as well as a bunch. I do not use the holiday as an excuse to make a huge variety of “Easter” desserts.

2. Be brutally honest with yourself

It is easy to use a holiday such as Easter as an excuse to go off your diet – after all the candy is appealing, there are egg hunts, and special holiday celebrations. When I was losing weight I had to confess to myself that I waslooking for a reason to quit my diet and I used a holiday as an excuse.

3. Remind yourself that Easter comes every year

Oftentimes I’d act as though there would never be another Easter or other holiday. I ate as though my life depended on consuming enough Cadbury eggs, chocolate bunnies, or jelly beans. Now I understand that letting the holidays flow around my already healthy eating patterns is the healthiest and easiest way to live. While Easter is a special holiday to us as a Christian family, it is just one day and that day does not need to revolve around food.

4. Plan, plan, plan

Instead of creating excuses – plan ahead. If you want a chocolate and you know that won’t negatively affect you – go ahead. If you don’t want any – that’s good too. Planning is the key for me when it comes to holidays. If I have a plan that I am committed to – the holiday usually passes by with little food angst.

I know this was a long post, but it is so important to learn how to handle holidays. They always pop up – the stores stock candy and treats months ahead of the holidays and all the social celebrations make it vital to know what you are going to do and not make excuses to quit your quest for a healthier life.

Have you seen people use holidays as an excuse? What is your advice on handling holidays? Diane

24 thoughts on “Using Holidays As An Excuse

  1. blackhuff says:

    I remember how I used to use Holidays as an excuse to put whatever I could lay my hands upon, in my mouth. I used to eats LOTS of Easter eggs along with the kids. The more eggs I got for the children, the more I ate along. I’m rather ashamed in saying this. Make me look like a pig.

  2. Ellen says:

    This was such a wonderful & timely post! Thank you for the reminder to stay on track this week! I have historically been so guilty of the holiday mentality.

  3. Jody - Fit at 55 says:

    “Special Occasions” & holidays tend to go on all year round with people that rationalize like this – tough love but it is the truth. You can rationalize all you want but many times it is just an endless list of excused why you can eat this stuff…

    Greta points Diane.. and honestly, we can eat fav treats all year round but not every day.. like me & my weekend cookie treat! It takes a lot of hard work to get there but it can be done…

  4. Babbalou says:

    I am pretty good at staying on plan but if I dive into treats it is very hard for me to get back on plan. I know we are all different, but one thing that helps me is to make something for a holiday that’s special because it’s time consuming or fussy to make rather than because it’s sugary. For Christmas I made a dish using lots of pomegranite seeds, which I love but rarely bother to make due to the mess involved. For Easter I’ll make a North African dish I’d had my eye on for a long time but haven’t made due to the prep time involved. I’ll probably make a small dessert, but with the kids grown and away I won’t need to get candy or make baskets. My husband still has not eaten his small stash of Christmas candy and I have no doubt eaten more than my lifetime share of Easter eggs already,

    • Babbalou says:

      Thank you, maybe someday, eh? I admire all the consistent bloggers, like Diane, who post on such a regular basis. I don’t know if I have it in me. I might rather write a novel, I’ve got a couple of them drafted and somehow it seems easier than blogging. The editing however is a lot of work! So Diane, who writes a really nice blog AND has written (and published) a book AND who is raising a big family at the same time – my hat is off to you!

  5. Alejandra @ wishfulshrinking says:

    That was definitely me the first couple of times on the weight loss merry go round. Now I don’t want to lose months of work over one weekend of indulgences. Yes, the meals are bigger this weekend, but my plate doesn’t have to be. No one will force me to eat more than I have to, so I have to be my own boss. As for the treats, if it is absolutely going to kill you to not have a mini-egg, just have one… as long as it doesn’t spiral out of control to the point of eating bags of the bad stuff. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth to begin with, so maybe that’s a lot easier said than done. Think of how far you’ve come, how much further you have to go, and how much farther a weekend of “treats” will set you back. MIND OVER MATTER, FRIENDS.
    Thanks for the post Dianne, as usual.

  6. Caron says:

    Truthfully, I can ALWAYS find a “seemingly” good reason or excuse to eat things I should not have. Discounting all the holidays, there are still endless reasons to overeat or to eat unhealthy things. There will be a birthday or an anniversary or a wedding or a potluck dinner all year long and we seem to always celebrate around food. The list is practically endless. If I am really serious about my weight and my health, I have to draw a line in the sand that mostly cannot be crossed. It certainly cannot be crossed on a weekly basis or I will undo all of my hard work.

  7. Gwen says:

    Yes, with holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, ‘date nights’, family get-togethers, sporting events, weekends…a bazillion reasons to overeat, year-round, if we allow ourselves to. Where does it all end? I honestly think for some people, it never ends. For some people, like an alcoholic, they reach their drop dead bottom moment, and the changes start there. Others find information or research that just flips on a light bulb for them. Count me in the last group. Once in a blue moon I’ll indulge with a sliver of chocolate, but that’s it. Stuff doesn’t appeal to me at all anymore. But I understand how tough it can be. Was there for 60 plus years. But, like a horse, you can lead ’em to water, but you can’t make them drink. Each person has to find their own way to better health. But you are a great, consistent beacon, Diane!

    • vickie says:

      Gwen – Your list is a good one.

      I would add sickness (self or family), job/school deadline/stress, vacations, and weather (preventing people from regular exercise routine).

      I think I remember someone doing a post where they actually tracked 52 weeks one year, to illustrate that there was SOMETHING every week of the year. It was a really great post.

  8. Jenny says:

    Just the other day my husband was asking me if all the holiday candy around was tempting me. My answer was that I was tempted in target the other day to pick up a Reeses Easter bunny but it was a small package and the amount of calories in that one small little bunny was astonishing. Now I think I’m able to pass up those items because I’m in complete awe of how bad the candy is. I even told him that I thought of all the holidays, that Easter candy might possibly be the worst holiday candy. Mini candy bars, jelly beans, reeses bunnys, huge chocolate creatures, peeps……

  9. Joe says:

    Bottom line I’m going to probably have a nice Easter Brunch and possibly a dinner with family. Besides a dish I will be bringing to these functions I won’t be buying any candy or other holiday junk food. I think it’s the people that look at a holiday as a holiday week that have the most propblem. Easter is one day and you should enjoy a good meal if you choose to.

  10. Janis says:

    The point about how it’s not “once a year” anymore when the next “once a year” event occurs two weeks later is an important one. It’s strange — I only just (like, this weekend) recovered a recipe that my grandmother and great-grandmother used to make for my mom when she was little. A lot of my mom’s family recipes were lost because her mom died before my parents married. My mom never got the chance to call her mom on the phone and say, “Mom, it’s Easter, how do I make X?” It’s made harder since a lot of these dishes, we only know the dialect name for them and I haven’t a clue how to spell them.

    Well, I found one recently and made it, a traditional sweet eaten for Easter or Carnevale (Italian Mardi Gras). I called my mom and told her I made it, and she remarked that they only had this stuff once a year, and that that was what made it more special. And my family was fairly working-class (just typical craftsmen), so once a year really meant once a year. Easter and Christmas was when they made sweets and that was it.

    She also said that she never saw the adults eating the desserts. They were made for the kids, and they were made in modest amounts. Most of the sweets recipes from Abruzzi, where my family’s from, are so flexible that you can make enough for ten people or two people, whatever size your family is, or even just enough for yourself. It’s like having the ability to make only one slice of cake or two cookies. It’s great.

    I just thought about that when you started out talking about how we really don’t have a sense of what “once a year” means anymore. I made these things — they are delicious and I’m so happy to have recovered a lost family recipe and so proud to have made something traditional, and I’m not making them again until next spring.

  11. Jill @ a Girl in Progress says:

    Your advice on coming up with a plan ahead of time is great. I think for me, that is the key to not eating my way through holidays and speical occassions. Telling myself I can have one meal that is heavier than normal and planning for it sets me up for success. Otherwise, I’m at the whim of my emotions and my stomach when I’m hungry, which is a bad outcome-generator every time.

  12. L says:

    Many times I have had to say to myself, “It’s just food. It’s here all the time. It will be back next year. Don’t panic.” 🙂 That helps. My bigger problem is having family in town during these holidays. They want all the fattening foods and candy there, in the house. I was hoping I would not have to have any of it in the house this year, but looks like I will need to have some. This is where planning can help. I need to make sure I have plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and nuts on hand–things that I love and can eat. Plan, Plan, Plan. It really is the best way to survive food holidays.

  13. Art @ Fit at Fifty says:

    We just have to avoid the seasonal isles at the supermarket.
    We keep fresh fruits and veggies to eat and have learned to ration our candy intake.
    avoid the candy bars and when we do eat candy eat good quality chocolate.

  14. Dr. J says:

    The higher the fewer, with holidays and making excuses.

    The Americanization of Chinese food is a good example of where dishes that the Chinese would eat once a year, people here have made a weekly event.

    • Janis says:

      Same with Italian food. You cannot FIND real pizza in the US. Italian food has been destroyed in the US, unless you go to someone’s home. Even then, it’s hard to find the real thing.

  15. Morey says:

    No doubt, when the holidays come with all the festivities and family. Your healthy eating habits will be altered by all the temptation around the dinner table. The trick is moderation. Only one piece of cake! Only one portion of your favorite holiday meal! I know it’s easier said than done but a little discipline goes a long way during the holidays.

  16. Megan says:

    I am grateful that my family here in Australia have never really celebrated holidays the traditional way or gone over the top with food, because I’m sure I would be worse than I am. We were brought up with the traditional easter eggs scattered all over the house, but no candy or any other gimick, and now as we are older and wiser we all sit down for a good meal together and might get a small good quality chocolate easter egg for each other. Because of that Easter won’t change very much for me and I will add in an exercise session or two just in case anything pops up. Great timing Diane, holidays are always a tough one to balance healthy living and lifestyle.

  17. Jess says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Easter is my all time favourite holiday because it is an excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate without guilt. I was planning on doing the same this year. But now I am not going to use this holiday as an excuse to binge!!

  18. Diego says:

    It’s hard to keep on track during holiday seasons with all the yummy chocolate everywhere. I usually try to only allow myself to indulge on the one day, for example Easter Sunday. Then it’s back to being good.. but it’s not easy!

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