I’m No Nutrition Saint

Around this time of year, health-oriented news sites and blogs become filled with one piece after another on how to avoid holiday weight gain. It’s usually a series of tips on what to eat and what not to eat from the buffet table of your next family party, along with what you already know about living healthfully: everything in moderation, and get plenty of exercise.

As much as I want to encourage healthy practices that discourage excess weight gain, I think the focus on the holidays really misses the mark. Your health is determined by what you do the majority of the time, not the small fraction that is special occasions like Christmas and New Years. I am the first person to indulge when I’m celebrating. When confronted with a buffet of desserts, I will typically take one of everything. And I never pass up the opportunity to have a particularly special treat (like last weekend when I savored a decadent piece of “cheese” cake on a rare trip to one of my favorite vegan restaurants). I feel comfortable indulging heavily that 5% of the time, because 95% of the time I’m eating plants on top of plants.

And another thing: some of my good friends seem to think that I’m going to judge them for eating something that isn’t healthy. It is true that I do tend to mother my friends a bit, and I’m not afraid to tell them they need something green on their plate when we’re in the dining hall. In all seriousness, that is out of love — I would never think less of anyone because of what they’re eating, especially just on one occasion. How hypocritical would that be? I am no nutrition saint.

Here’s a perfect example: last week, I was visiting a friend and her family, who were getting ready to celebrate Christmas. She texted me beforehand to ask if I was “morally opposed” to decorating a gingerbread house because it’s so bad for you to eat. It was a little disheartening to know that she thought I might be that rigid and judgmental. I fiercely want to hold the food industry accountable, sure. But I don’t consider it my responsibility to police the eating habits of everyone around me. Like I said, I am the first person to recognize the value and comfort of decadent food every now and then. And I certainly have nothing against gingerbread houses at Christmastime.

Don’t worry so much about the holidays — that’s once a year! Worry about the other 50 weeks a little more. (Speaking of which, look out for my New Year’s resolution post later this week.)

Thanks for reading!

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