Seven layer bar cookies. The recipe boasts semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, flaked sweetened coconut, with a savory addition of chopped nuts, all on a bed of a graham cracker crust made with butter (lots of butter!) and finished off with a whole can of sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top. Are you kidding me? I am supposed to say no to this? They literally call my name.
In that moment, presented with these beautiful treats, what am I supposed to do? After all, it’s the holidays. Memories are made. Families are bonded. Children are giddy. Bellies are full. What is at the centerpiece of it all? Food – glorious, celebrated, mouthwatering, break- the-budget, Pinterest-worthy food is at the center of the holiday season. I can come up with a million more descriptive justifications of why it’s not just my option, but my duty to partake of this delicious dessert. However, when it comes to me and food — I’ve realized where there is justification, there is usually sin. You see, most times when I convince myself I must eat something that I know is not a wise choice for me, I justify it with lies. “It’ll go to waste” or “It’s not going to matter this time,” or my favorite one, “I can do better the rest of the week to make up for it.” I can, to some extent, be enslaved by my desire to comfort myself with foods by not simply eating them in modest portions, but over-eating them.
I’m not looking to be “Debbie Downer” here. I believe some people can enjoy holiday treats without going overboard. But in my personal case, it’s not likely. I will start with one; then it leads to another, and another, and before you know it, I will probably be sneaking into the kitchen after the kids have gone to bed to cram just one more sweet into my mouth. Breathe deep, chew quickly, savor, and sigh. That, my friend, is straight up impulsive gluttony. I want what I want, as much as I want, and now. It doesn’t matter that I know it’s not good for me or that I will have one serious food hangover the next morning. I simply want the comforting yummy goodness that comes with eating the “forbidden” food.
As I sit here writing this confession, I am faced with the notion that you may be thinking one of a few things. One is “this girl has some serious issues.” Maybe you’re thinking “gluttony, really? A bit extreme don’t you think?” Lastly, you may be thinking, “I need to look up this recipe, my friends would love this!”
First of all, do NOT look up the recipe. It’s like introducing some legal form of drug to your holiday table and you will be hooked. Seriously – hooked. I guarantee it. Secondly, gluttony is defined in Wikipedia as “meaning to gulp down or swallow, means over- indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste.” I most certainly fit that description with some of my food choices. Lastly, yes, I have some issues. I am a personal trainer, but I am also human. However, I also know that God works all things to bring Him glory; He uses my weaknesses and failures to show how much you and I need Him in every aspect of our lives.
Strategy for the Holiday Yummies
I happen to have the privilege of sharing my knowledge of how to overcome these challenges each and every day with women facing the same struggles. We are not alone in this “gluttony” battle. Some of us aren’t aware of the battle yet and likely are facing the reality of it head on as they read this article. Let me share with you some helpful tips, that I also personally use, to get on track, stay on track, and recover when you derail, even during the holidays: Develop a plan.
- Set a time to work out. Determine when and how much time you have to exercise. If you are not sure what you should be doing, talk with your doctor and/or personal trainer to help you with a specific workout plan. Put it on your calendar as an actual appointment and stick to it.
- Make a weekly menu. Plan your meals and include your parties in your planning. Parties and events with food should replace your normal eating out plan. Plan to eat out no more than once a week. If you have to attend more social events than once a week, first consider saying no and plan another way to be social. If that’s not possible, consider eating a light healthy meal before you go and simply eat a small portion of the healthiest foods offered when you get there. Avoid processed foods. They are one of your worst enemies. They look so pretty, so full of color, sweet, and savory flavors. But they all come with the heavy price of filling your body with damaging toxins. Make your weekly grocery trip based on the menu planned. Once again, stick to it.
- Plan your limits. Myfitnesspal.com is a great website and free app that allows you to enter your personal data, and based on basic recommended daily allowance (RDA) guidelines, it will help you track your daily intake of calories and basic nutrients. Log in your foods, drinks, and exercise to keep you informed of any overeating or under eating that you may be doing. Moderation is the key. It’s okay to have some occasional holiday indulgences as long as you keep it in small portions. This app will show you when you have gone too far. Put some accountability in place.
- Talk to your spouse or family, ask them to not only help you say no, but ask them to say no with you. Explain the need for their help even though it may not be their struggle. Ask them to support you by participating in the same disciplines as you until you can handle facing it on your own.
- Talk to your friends. Explain to them your goals and offer healthy suggestions of things to do besides social events centered on food. Be prepared for scrutiny. If things cannot be altered, plan ways to eat before you go or take a dish to share that you know is something healthy you can eat.
- If you have children, get them involved. Educate them on the healthier choices and involve them in the cooking process. Have them help you measure portions as you log in your foods on your food journal. Tell them to encourage you to say no to junk and believe me, they love nothing more than to offer some correction when they see you going for the wrong thing!
- Pray daily. Pray often. Stay in God’s word. Do this above all other things. I saved this tip for last not because of least importance but because of lasting impression. I want you to know that God has a plan for you. He may allow you to walk through some struggles. It won’t always be easy, but He designed you to seek Him and His love and comfort. Through sin alone, we have learned the art of seeking love and comfort in everything BUT Him, such as food. Through Christ alone, you can overcome this and desire to seek Him first for love and comfort and to simply seek food to nurture the body He gave you.
Seek God, Not Food
I want to encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and direction for your life and your food choices. This is not something you have to or should face alone. Just like any other sin, you can put every discipline in place and still fail. The key to progress is recognizing the failure, confessing it to God in prayer, and asking for forgiveness and strength to face it again.
If the information I have provided isn’t quite enough, and you still are not sure how to practically face the holidays without giving in to your own food temptations, I encourage you to seek professional help. Doctors, nutritionists, counselors, and personal trainers are wonderful professionals to turn to if you desire healthier eating habits. They are trained to help you with basic steps to follow that are specific to your personal challenges. Contacting professional help can also act as another great way to establish accountability and routine.
Last but not least, research and find other creative ways to enjoy the holidays this year and set yourself free of being trapped by food. You will find that once you have put the systems in place to be proactive with your food choices, you can be freed up to truly enjoy what the holidays are all about. [/show_to]