From Craig Wilson’s crazy list of holiday eating tips so you’ll be fat and happy.
“Fill up on vegetable sticks, they say. Good grief. Is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas a carrot stick? … A carrot was something you left for Rudolph …
“About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately …
“If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again ….” *
LOL! Not exactly smart advice for those of us who WANT to eat healthy!
For me, it wasn’t Christmas cookies. And I didn’t go nuts over the carrots either.
I stood next to the Christmas buffet and chatted with friends. And I kept reaching for the big bowl of nuts. Over and over and over again. I was a party-time “nut glutton.”
Do you know how many calories are in just one handful of nuts!
(I didn’t, but a friendly nutritionist informed me … after the fact!)
So I gained a little weight and knew I needed to get back on track with healthy eating or I’d undo all the hard work of the previous 12 months to “learn obedience” in regard to my eating habits.
Here are some thoughts and decisions I’ve made since that Christmas buffet. Maybe my ideas will help you too.
1. PAUSE INSTEAD OF PANICKING
I’m not going to panic when I do eat too many empty calories. Panicky thoughts will not contribute to wiser choices.
When faced with a buffet or a plate of cookies or tray of fudge, I will pause and pray—asking the Lord for wisdom about whether or how much to “indulge.”
“… when you are tempted, he (the Lord) will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13b)
2. PICK MY BATTLES
I know it’s not reasonable to say I won’t eat another Christmas cookie or go to a Christmas party, but I can decide what’s important on my calendar, choose my eating splurges wisely so “empty calorie damage” is minimal, and live in freedom—not guilt.
“I have the right to do anything… but no everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
3. PREPARE MY HEART AND MIND
I make sure I know my triggers. I anticipate obstacles. I set some boundaries (like, only one plate of food, or only having a dessert I truly love and in a wise amount, or graciously saying “no, thank you” or “not now, maybe later”).
But it’s crucial to be “mindful” and think with an eternal perspective. If I don’t think prepare my heart and mind to choose wisely (Psalm 90:12), I’ll likely make decisions in the “heat of the moment.”
4. PLAN CAREFULLY
There’s nothing wrong with making strategies for the holidays.
Mindless eating means I’m not using my mind to think about what I’m eating and why.
Smart eating during the holidays is like warfare. It can be tough! But “by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 24:6). My “guidance” for these battles is the truth of scripture and the wise counsel of others who are fighting the same battle.
Strategy is important. Good strategies (for me) include remembering people are more important than food, not going to an event too hungry, optimizing food choices (loading up on veggies, then protein or meat before considering other carbohydrates), and picking out one “special” treat. (I define treat as something I wouldn’t normally get to eat. Why eat a brownie if they’re available all the time?)
5. PRE-DETERMINE RESPONSES
I try to find out what I’ll be facing. I want to be realistic! I can make some practical decisions ahead of time if I know I’ll face multiple eating “triggers.”
I’ve even been known to recruit a like-minded friend for support. I knew she was praying for me, and she checked up on me after the event. That friendly accountability gave me some extra motivation. She “sharpened” my resolve (Proverbs 27:17) and encouraged me (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
6. PURSUE THE BIG PICTURE
I’m learning to keep the big picture perspective in mind and aim for continuing progress. I want to maintain as many of my normal healthy-eating routines as possible.
When I remember what has helped me lose (or maintain) weight in the past—intentional healthy habits—I can choose to practice them most of the time during the holiday season. I can be diligent and not give up (Galatians 6:9).
7. PROGRESS FORWARD WHEN I FALL
Messing up isn’t the end of the world. It just means I have to be more intentional, plan better strategies, and seek the Lord in the face of temptations.
It’s not a matter of having more willpower, but rather of being a good student and leaning from my mistakes. It’s not a matter of punishing myself when I fall, but rather understanding what caused the mindlessness and addressing it so it’s not as likely to happen again.
I’m learning to re-calibrate and adjust for long-term progress. “… I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me” (Philippians 3:13).
I may stumble over and over in the process, but I won’t let it stop my progress (Proverbs 24:16a).
8. PARTY IN MY HEART
I am going to celebrate every single small “victory” toward healthy eating during the holiday season.
Little decisions make a big impact. Little choices have consequences. And little victories are worth celebrating because they are actually HUGE! (I actually smile as I put only one cookie on my plate!)
I want to focus on my wins, not my mistakes.
And I want to praise the Lord, because it is my faithful God who enables lasting victories (Deuteronomy 20:4; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
I don’t have to go nuts at the buffet line ever again, but when I do, I know God’s grace is sufficient, and He will draw me back to truth.
* Craig Wilson, USA Today, “Thou Shalt Not Skim Flavor from the Holidays,”
Graphic: Hickory Farms Mixed Nuts: