WARNING:: Healthcare professionals, health coaches, holistic nutritionists, and anyone else with a fanaticism about any one eating style, this post is NOT for you!!  Look away.  If you believe there is only one style of eating that is healthy for all people and that it is completely realistic to follow it during the holidays, don’t even bother to read this post.   Strict vegans, (and hey, I can be pretty strict!) there are meat references!!

This post is for the other 99% of people who might be perfect angels the whole year with a healthy eating plan, watching every morsel (or at least most of the time) that goes into your mouth OR you are the type of person who, every New Year, you resolve THIS is going to be your year to lose weight, get healthy and trim and be the picture perfect version of the media’s ideal of beauty.  It doesn’t matter who you are or your idea of healthy eating. Sometime around Thanksgiving and continuing on to the champagne fest on New Year’s Day (and sometimes extending all the way to Super Bowl Sunday in January) all bets are out the window and everything, healthy, not healthy (and holiday eating is more of the latter) finds its way onto your plate, into your mouth, and most often, on your abs, butt, hips and thighs.

We talked about maintaining balance in nutrition throughout the holiday season but as I went through my day, putting up our Christmas tree, having my homemade peppermint white chocolate latte (sans caffeine but WITH cream), eating fresh gingerbread, and having a blast I realized how much people struggle during the holidays which often leads them to feel even more depressed as the holidays roll to a close as that dress they may have wanted to wear on Christmas Eve is a little tighter than when they bought it in September or the sugar highs and lows have taken their toll on the already frazzled nerves of holiday celebrations.

We won’t go into the details of WHY you crave carbs more during the holidays in this post.  That all in the last segment and there is no use beating a dead horse.  {Read Dear Detox Diva:: Maintaining Balance During the Holidays}  However, I want to talk more about the 80/20 rule and how giving into foodgasms during the holidays (or any time of the year, for that matter) is not only NOT going to kill you but it could help you get on an even healthier path to wellness.

I don’t do well with dairy.  I am ok with raw dairy but if I eat too much of it, it WILL kick me in the head so I don’t generally eat or drink a whole lot of it, not even in the winter.  I do not even attempt to tell myself I am ok with modern wheat or just a ton of glutinous grains.  I don’t eat them much of the year.  In fact, I don’t miss them most of the time.  My energy levels soar without them.  No bread is worth feeling like a dog’s dinner.    I do still eat some meat during the winter, usually wild game or, at least grass-fed or free range.  I don’t eat a lot.  I eat it when I REALLY want it.  If I ask myself if I REALLY want it and I get the answer “eh, I could just as soon eat quinoa” I leave it.  In the summer, I never want it.  There are too many awesome fruits and vegetables in season and I am gorging on them, most of the time in their raw form.

I follow, and I tell my clients to follow a 90/10 rule.  90% of the time eat sanely and rationally, no matter which plan we put them on, whether it is vegan or careful omnivore, that rule is the same.  10% of the time they can “treat” themselves.  Notice I didn’t say cheat!  Cheating implies that you are doing something naughty.  You are not a child sneaking a biscuit.  You are a grown up who wants to live healthy, pain-free, disease-free lives and, let’s face it, nutrition has absolutely everything to do with making that happen.  I don’t say follow an 80/20 rule most of the year because people trying to reach their goals really need to stick to a plan and 20% most of the year gives them just enough rope to hang themselves.  A little white pasta becomes a lot of white pasta fast if you don’t watch it.

Around the holidays, however, when there is just so much food and a lot of that food has to do with tradition and happy memories, telling my clients (or myself) to stick to a 90% healthy diet is just not realistic.  It may even make you resentful and throw you off track in an even bigger way.

So how do you know when to eat 80% and when to eat 20%?  Well, we talked about really good turkey and really lousy gravy.  You eat the turkey, you leave the gravy.  You leave the canned corn, you eat the fresh broccoli.  If you are doing the cooking, you can make a pumpkin souffle instead of a traditional pumpkin pie or try our Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Crust which is awesome and healthy too!  (It’s gluten-free and you wouldn’t miss the gluten at all!).  If you are at Aunt Bessie’s and she’s ponying up the egg nog and hot apple cider you might choose to have a few sips of the egg nog but stick to the cider.  Or drink the egg nog but skip the cardboard gingerbread cookies from a box. However, drinking the egg nog AND eating the cookies, chips, pretzels, and pretty much anything else that is in your view is not going to make you feel (or look) good at all and will just be dead weight (and oh pun SO intended).

Pick your battles during holiday eating.  Have some turkey, eat that ham if you are so inclined.  (Find a farmer that offers foraging pigs and smokes the ham himself and experience the vast difference between conventionally raised pigs and pigs that are allowed to roam free and graze!)  Don’t eat the whole ham.  Share it.  For snacks, remember your crudites and pop some popcorn instead of putting out mountains of chips.

For those of you who can’t imagine life without a cocktail or 5 around the holidays, vodka affects the blood sugar far less than tequila, rum, or pretty much any other alcohol.  Red wine is also a good choice.  If champagne is your poison, the ultra brut is your best option.  Whatever you choose, make sure you drink a glass (preferably two) of water between each glass to avoid dehydration.

There are many trade offs that can satisfy your craving for holiday treats without derailing your desires for a healthy vibrant, abundant life.

Tomorrow we are going to talk about foodgasms and how having one (or multiple)  might just keep you on a healthy track.