If Thanksgiving Was Just One Day

holiday eating fest

I did a talk yesterday about healthy holiday eating and I told the group this:

If we treated Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, as just one day, then a big meal wouldn’t ruin your weight management plan in the least. After all, if a holiday meal were just a single event, it would be nearly impossible to permanently gain weight from a single meal. IF you eat healthy the rest of the time.

But the truth is that for a lot of people who struggle with their weight, it is very difficult to treat Thanksgiving (or any other holiday) as just a day. Instead we treat Thanksgiving as the beginning of what I like to term “The Holiday Eating Fest.”

In fact, I generally started the “Holiday Eating Fest” around Halloween when the stores began to stock Halloween candy. I found it very difficult to resist buying (and eating) the candy that was predominantly displayed. And I wasn’t buying it to pass out to kids, I was buying it for myself.

After Halloween passed, the stores put up those convenient “Baking Centers” where they made it easy to pick up a few bags of chocolate chips, a cake mix or two, brownie mixes, speciality holiday baking ingredients, and other such junk.

Here’s a picture I took at our local Wal-Mart of the baking center  placed strategically in the center of the main aisle where it is impossible to miss:

Wal-Mart Baking Section

I think the only redeeming foods on that display were the plain pumpkin pie filling, nuts, and raisins. The rest of it was non-essential food items.

And then, in addition to the Thanksgiving/Christmas baking centers there is the candy aisle. Here’s a picture of the candy aisle.

Candy in a store

And that candy aisle is in addition to the one further up the store. No wonder it is hard to get out of the grocery store without some junk in the cart. 

Now you see why I call the time after Halloween the “Holiday Eating Fest.”

Between the food tempting us in the stores, the office parties, the holiday parties, the school productions complete with cupcakes as big as your head, and the actual holiday itself, many of us find it hard to stay on our weight loss plan or even maintain the weight we have already lost.

I know I did. I thought of the Thanksgiving holiday as open eating season and that got me in trouble year-after-year-after-year. Instead of gaining just a few pounds, which would have been bad enough, I often put on 10 pounds or more during the Holiday Eating Fest. And then I never lost it.

It can be really hard to resist all these temptations when shopping or attending holiday events. But you must learn how to handle the temptations because holidays keep coming whether you are at your goal weight or not.

I lost about 20 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day the year I lost my 150 pounds. I finally realized that treating the end-of-the-year holidays as one big eating fest was detrimental to my health and not good for my weight loss efforts. I made a concerted effort to change my shopping habits, say no to foods I did not need, and change my attitude toward exercise.

Was it easy? Of course not. Those candy aisles didn’t magically stop calling my name. The baking centers still held an allure to me because I like to cook. But the lure of living life at a healthy weight and continuing to lose weight was stronger than all that temptation.

I constantly reminded myself of the goals I had for myself and how far I had come. No piece of pie or candy was worth taking a step back.

If Thanksgiving were just a single meal this time of year would be relatively easy to sail through without ruining your weight loss efforts. Perhaps if you do start thinking of Thanksgiving as just one meal to enjoy in moderation and try to focus less on all the foods that are available all the other days, you will find it easier to navigate your weight loss plan successfully.

How do you handle this time of year? Do you wish Thanksgiving really was just a single nice meal and not associated with the beginning of the Holiday Eating Fest? Diane

Image courtesy of apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

11 thoughts on “If Thanksgiving Was Just One Day

  1. Caron says:

    I most definitely identify with your past holiday experiences. One memorable year, I gained almost 15 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. I had told myself that I would “be good” after the first of the year, but I wore those pounds for the next two years and added even more. I never want to repeat that. Thanks for a great post! 🙂

  2. Nancy B. Kennedy says:

    I am fortunate in that I don’t have the “Holiday Food Fest” mindset. I’m not big into holidays as occasions. Even so, it can be hard to hold the line this time of year. It’s funny, but the thing that helps me most is alternating holidays with my husband’s family. Families all have different food traditions and preparation methods. The holiday foods I grew up with are really tempting (bleu cheese and broccoli casserole! my mother’s stuffing!), but I can control myself when the foods on the table represent someone else’s traditions. It’s easier to pass them up somehow.

  3. Jenea Mason says:

    I am blessed that I’m over the holiday eating fest. I’m also blessed with a family that knows what we can and can’t eat and is willing to modify their “normal” Thanksgiving day feast. In years past I was definitely one that would not stop eating from halloween on. This year I’ve forgone the candy and sugary dishes that I used to crave.

  4. Leah says:

    Last year was the first year I found myself not wanting to participate in all of the extra goodie eating. I’d been working on my weight loss for 3 1/2 years at that point and it was strange to me.

    On Thanksgiving I am doing a virtual 5K run that morning, like I did last year, and my goal is to keep that day of eating limited to just one day.

    For the holidays I am keeping in mind something you’ve always said … I’ll eat what I really, really like, not waste calories on foods that are only so-so for me.

  5. Kim says:

    I don’t bake a lot so we really don’t change out eating that much during the holiday season because we still don’t have a lot of snacks around. I know that when we are at big get-togethers it is the snacky stuff that always draws me in so if I don’t keep it around it helps a lot!!!

  6. Hope K says:

    I didn’t eat any candy on or around Halloween. I view that as strictly a children’s holiday. I will eat what I want at Thanksgiving dinner, but for me it will only be one meal, my “cheat meal” for the week. Same for Christmas dinner. I used to eat a lot around the holidays, but then I used to eat a lot all the time! No more. I have changed my eating and I plan to keep it that way. But rare special days, feast days, I think are OK. They are a part of my culture and heritage. Eating junk all the time is not OK and never will be.

  7. BlessedMama says:

    Such a good reminder for this time of year. It was about two years ago that I made the decision to not only stop stuffing myself for two months straight, but also to stop stuffing myself at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. A portion-controlled meal is much more satisfying and free of guilt than one laden with seconds and thirds. I enjoy those meals – and the holiday season in general – much more now that I’m not gaining p0unds back because of overindulging.

  8. Stephanie says:

    “It can be really hard to resist all these temptations when shopping or attending holiday events. But you must learn how to handle the temptations because holidays keep coming whether you are at your goal weight or not.”

    That is SO true!!! It took me SO many years to learn how to handle the holidays. I had can remember so many Thanksgivings where I had that awful, awful feeling afterward of knowing I’d eaten too much, and the guilt that comes with it. I’m so happy that I’m one of the few at the table now who doesn’t say, “Ooooooh, I ate too much…” after dinner. And yet, I am never deprived!

  9. Amy says:

    This is the time of year when I’m glad I don’t live in the US! Halloween and Thanksgiving aren’t celebrated here, and Christmas and New Year, while still a feast, is much more low key than in the States. It makes things much easier!

  10. Sheetal says:

    I mostly think of food when I am so hungry that I can eat whatever is in sight! And oh,in the night when the kids are gone to bed,itès my pat on the back for a job well done!Sheesh, I need to change that though.

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