Indulgence isn’t a scary word. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to say hell yes to pumpkin pie without saying f#ck it to your healthy lifestyle.
A healthy indulgence means maintaining your health while choosing to enjoy foods you truly love. No, it doesn’t mean diving face-first into every decadent dish that happens to be on the table. It isn’t about sucking up all the homemade whipped cream just because it’s available, it means dropping a scoop on your pumpkin pie because it reminds you of your childhood holiday memories, because it’s delicious, because one scoop is not going to completely derail your health. When you choose to eat these foods in moderation from a place of empowerment, a place of self-love, it is so much easier to treat yourself.
We often talk about food with such a cynical spin, especially this time of year. It’s a lot of I shouldn’t eat that and I’ll regret this later. We place mom’s homemade pecan pie and Aunt Alice’s sweet potato casserole into negative categories: bad, too tempting, unhealthy, downright evil.
That’s right, Aunt Alice. Evil.
Consider this: the effects of worry and stress are actually more damaging to your healthy than any overindulgent amount of “evil food” can ever be. For example, if you were to eat an extra serving of bacon every single day, you’d only increase your risk of colon cancer by one-half of one percent. Yep. That’s it. Give yourself ten extra minutes a day of stressing over the sodium content and you could trigger a heart attack.
By freaking out over food, we turn awesome occasions for joy and gratitude into sources of fear and anxiety. I say we because I’ve been known to do it as well. While I was in the throes of my eating disorder, the Thanksgiving Day dinner table was a showdown. I either totally binged and purged on every single carb passed my way or I hid slices of turkey under my winter squash hoping no one would notice. There was never a happy medium, balanced meal, or “healthy indulgence”. Just a lot of anxiety over the delicious food and a whole bunch of self-imposed guilt.
Well, there’s no room at the Thanksgiving dinner table for guilt or anxiety anymore.
For anyone who familiar with food or body image issues, often healthy and happy don’t go hand in hand. The ups and downs of restricting and overeating, of being “good” and “bad,” is often what keeps so many people in that all or nothing rigid diet mentality. It took me a long time (and a lot of work) to realize that a large part of my health is tied to my happiness and that’s totally okay. In fact, it’s awesome. The ‘healthy’ thing to do was never white-knuckle it through holiday after holiday until I found myself sitting in front of an open fridge with a half eaten pie in my lap. True story.
Allowing myself healthy indulgences gives me a sense of freedom and empowerment around food. I’ll be honest, the day following a little indulgence I’ll enjoy a sweat sesh and green juice because that feels good to my body. I no longer jump on the treadmill out of self-hate. Resetting my system with a little exercise and some veggies just feels good today. And I’m all about doing things that feel good.
A Few Tips For Healthy Indulgence This Thanksgiving:
- If you are going to indulge, make it a conscious decision.
- Be present in the moment.
- Tell Guilt to take a backseat for the day. Let Gratitude hang out at the big kids table instead.
- Get back on track the next day as a form of self-care.
- Enjoy yourself.