Enjoying a happy, healthy holiday season

Health literacy    Personal

CHRISTMAS IS A difficult time for many. Each holiday season serves up a unique and challenging set of decisions: on lifestyle, on food choices, on specialty drinks and even simple time management.

In my world, at Christmas, all of the above are in the mix. With five adult children, an eight-year-old and five grandchildren, our household runs the gamut. There are unlimited cookies, pressure to buy the perfect gift, the organisation of many gatherings and then finding the time to reflect on why we celebrate this time of year in the first place. We all have our own traditions. None of them are the same.

But unfortunately, for many Christmas is a time of loneliness, depression and worry. Many are convinced that, due to illness, this will be the last Christmas they ever experience. The reality is that regardless of what the coming year holds, we should never give up: we should fight to say healthy, relevant and engaged.

The battle to stay healthy or restore our health is one of the most difficult in life. Many simplify their efforts and try to focus on the choices they make every day. Others struggle to make a single appropriate decision. Many decisions are based on our knowledge of the consequences of the choices we make, but an increasing number of us know and understand these consequences but lack the willpower to make the right decisions. We tell ourselves we will start the diet tomorrow. We consume an incredible amount of food. In fact at no other time in the year will we have pot-luck lunches, and family gatherings where there are 20-plus options on the table: appetizers, main dishes, sides, dessert and all the other the things that are too numerous to mention.

We justify our decisions because ‘it’s a holiday’ or because ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by refusing their food’. Or we simply take this time of year as a free ticket, permission to eat as much as possible. All of these are bad justifications! Our responsibilities to ourselves should never be totally disregarded. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t eat in the spirit of the season, but we should also never eat like its our last meal, or like someone who doesn’t know when or where their next meal may be. We should simply eat till we are full. This requires eating with a plan, eating at a normal speed and allowing our body to tell us when we are full.

Our time is simply that: our time. It is our responsibility to make the best choices in all areas of our life. What and how much we eat may be the most important choice we make this holiday season. Make an informed one!

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