For me Christmas and holidays are about sharing, celebrating, talking, family, friends and of course the FOOD! I won’t lie the food at this time of year is one of the things that I treasure the most. Every year I help my nonna make Struffoli and Pizza Figliata (Naples traditional Christmas cakes) and over the course of December and January consume a fair portion of it.
I love that my family gatherings are centered around the food we are eating, and that we spend most of the time we are together sitting around the kitchen table. These things that bring me so much joy were taken away from me when I let the guilt of messing up my diet and physique creep in.
A few weeks ago at work (I’m a café waitress) I was taking an order of two young women. They had come straight from the gym and were after some lunch to refuel them for the afternoon. I took their order and walked away. One of the girls called me back over after a couple of minutes to ask what brand of bread we use so she could put it in her fitness tracker. I told her the brand and she slightly panicked because it didn’t come up on the system. This would mean she could not accurately track her macros. I gave her the name of an alternative and she put that in. After they finished eating I cleared their plates and asked if they enjoyed the food. The girl replied, “It was so delicious but I stuffed up by not asking for there to be no butter on my bread, now I have to track the butter and I won’t be able to eat as much fat later.” I can honestly say that I knew exactly how that girl felt. The look of guilt and disappointment on her face broke my heart.
I want to make it clear that I understand that people, myself included, like to make the best possible decision for their body when they are eating out. I even understand the need to write down the food we eat sometimes during a fitness program to ensure we are getting enough of the right nutrients to replenish our energy stores. For me the issue is when the guilt steps in.
The reality is that summer is a time of year that people are on holidays. They want to get together and eat with their loved ones. This is not always going to be at home or at the healthiest location. In the past if I knew that I was going to a dinner out or at a friend’s house I would restrict myself for the entire day to ensure that I would have enough calories remaining at the end of the day. I would train like crazy for the week leading up to the event to make sure that any cake consumed on the night would not make a difference to my physique.
I had a very special moment a few weeks ago. I caught up for dinner with two of my close girlfriends. We sat and sipped Spritzers, made dinner, laughed, drank tea, shared our thoughts on life and ate some gingerbread cookies and protein balls I made. We spent nearly four hours just sitting around the kitchen table together. I didn’t feel guilty or stressed. I didn’t track how much I was eating. I was at peace with my body and my decisions. I trusted that my body knew what to do with the food and that I would feel nourished and content. I know in my heart that the people that want to catch up with me don’t want to do so because of the way I look but rather for my company. Dinner hosts are not putting food out because they are jealous of your fitness progress or want to see you fail. They invite you over to be together, laugh and learn about what has been happening with YOU and share their stories with you.
The message I want to get across is that it is okay to indulge. You are not going to be punished for reaching for that third piece of cake or consuming a slightly larger than average bowl of pasta. My advice to you if the guilt does start to creep in is, before you leave the house, to take a moment to close your eyes and say the mantra:
“I am enough. I beautifully and wonderfully made. I am worthy of indulgence.”
This time of year is special. It is time to be with friends and family; to celebrate new life and new beginnings. Balance is key, tomorrow is a new day.
Side note - Can we take a second to appreciate just how incredible the Struffoli and Pizza Figliata came out this year! Only 10 more months before we make these beauties again...not that anyone is counting hehehe