Every year around this time I get a little unnerved that the holidays are somehow going to wreak havoc on my health. And each New Year’s, regardless of what real harm the holidays have done, I arrive with a resolution of nixing this or that in pursuit of perfecting my diet; lofty pursuits that manage to cut you off from the rest of the world if you endeavor to maintain them 7 days a week, which inevitably will drive one to a mental frenzy over how to eat and look perfect this season . They may not have always been outspoken plans or obvious labels such as being a “vegan” or “gluten-intolerant,” but they were my own tactics to acheiving this ideal. It’s sounds lame and shallow (because it is) but it is a concern I’ve allowed to suck the life out of one too many Holidays Seasons.
Last January, after such a season, I came upon a Huffington Post one month too late. Contributor Margaret Wheeler Johnson had written an honest list that hits home with just about any and every woman, Holiday Eating: 17 Things to Consider When Your Obsessing About Food and Weight. (Margaret - I wish you could have told me to consider these things when I was 17!) Each and every point Johnson brings up stings like a dagger, because they’re everything I’ve thought, every thing I’ve struggled with, and likely everything any female struggles with at some point.
My ideas of healthy living have been more of an ideal than anything else. While I’ve never had a clinical eating disorder, I’ve gone through my seasons when my ways among food were and have often been disorderly. Not disorderly as in I binge and purge, but disorderly as in I mentally calculate how many carbs are on my plate. I strategically order my “special” Starbucks drink to be under so many grams of sugar. Most ashamedly, I’ve been that girl who has, at times, tried to find ways of nixing butter and sugar and sneaking in more whole grains into the Christmas cookies. Looking back at all these crazy Holidays I’ve tried insanely hard to achieve and “maintain” some perfect diet, to get some perfect body, to one day somehow feel perfectly secure and happy, while attempting to bake “good-for-you” gluten-free cookies (I know, I should’ve gotten coal for Christmas that year) they were always the more miserable holidays. My mind was wrapped around an ideal that I had been fixated on forming my body to and therefore completely wrapped up around me, during a time it should be the least focused on me.
“Maintaining one’s health” can be quite the self-consuming task. Our concept of health has evolved greatly through the years, for better and for worse. Health: the state of being free from illness or injury. Today we tend to rate a clean bill of health on whether a trace of gluten is in our system or a teaspoon of sugar has passed our lips in the past week. When “maintaining one’s health” become miserable why do we think it’s good for us? I know we all know this (heck, I've known it for years) but do we really know it? As in, eat with some sense and sensibility?
The search for the perfect diet, the ideal body or some self-sufficient plan that will make us skinny (and therefore forever-happy) just does not exist. The perfect body does not exists. Cindy Crawford even says, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford." Again, these are thinks we know (hear, read, say) but don’t really live like we know it. A healthy diet is so much more sensible and reasonable than we can wrap our heads around in our culture of bizarre extremities and immediate gratification. So learn earlier than I did and don’t let this crazy search for perfection by means of some indoctrinated diet ruin your holiday, or any day for that matter.