Well Being

Healthy Holidays Don’t Have To Suck

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healthy holidays

The holidays come with tons of fun and tons of stress–and that's before you even think about how to fit in your workouts and make decent dietary choices at every holiday party between now and New Year's. Once you do start thinking about maintaining healthy habits despite daily (but cheerful!) conspiracies against it, the holidays can be downright hellish. And all too often, the places you go for help when you're trying to achieve health during the holidays just make it worse, with articles instructing you to burn every calorie that passes your lips and headlines encouraging you to drop weight by Christmas. Our goal at Blisstree is to help you figure out how to have healthy holidays that don't suck–by giving you healthy eating tips, healthy gift guides, and helpful recipes to pull off your spread of vegan hors d'oeuvres…without getting you down about your body or obsessed with how much you weigh.

Our mission is always to help you make healthy choices, without the body snark and emphasis on beauty standards that are all too common in the health and fitness sphere–whether it's December or any other time of year. But just before Thanksgiving, a reader comment reminded us that this is tricky business:

I understand that you're anti-fat-shaming, advocates of a healthy body image, pro-feminist, etcetera. This is all great, and by all means, I agree… but then a quick scroll to your front page reveals about 6 different articles on how to maintain your diet on Thanksgiving. So while simultaneously telling women that it's O.K. to be comfortable in their bodies and not subscribe to ridiculous media standards of thinness and beauty, you are also telling them that it's critically important to fret about what and how much they eat on ONE holiday meal that occurs ONCE a year, as if it is the end all to their self concept.

This just doesn't make sense to me. How about “hey, it's okay to think about things other than the size of your waist for a day”… or heaven forbid, for a holiday meal! It's almost like telling females everywhere that self acceptance is only appropriate as long as you follow the rules.

We don't think it's critically important to worry about what and how much you eat at one holiday meal, and worrying about the size of your waist has no place in “healthy holidays,” as we would define them. Some of her criticisms seemed unfounded (we don't write articles instructing anyone to “workout X number of minutes a day!”, and while we do provide healthy eating tips…that isn't synonymous with body-shaming). But I have to admit that some of them stung:

How can a website like BlissTree even agree to give credence to an author whose book is titled ‘Sweet and Skinny'? Or a personal trainer whose holiday health concern is ‘fitting into her spandex'?

Eeek. While part of me still wants to scramble and delete every quote from a nutritionist whose book involves the word “skinny,” I also feel torn; some of my favorite trainers and nutritionists–no, all of my favorite trainers and nutritionists–have featured thin models on the cover of their books, used the word “skinny” in their marketing, or written articles about how to lose weight. I'm talking about people who have the highest qualifications, and many who have some of the healthiest ideas about body image and coaching I've seen in the industry.

But the industry is fueled by advertisers, companies and publishers who make money from emphasizing weight loss and looks, so talking about health in terms of ideal weights, measurements or otherwise aesthetically-determined goals has become the status quo. Staying skinny and even “getting the glow” have become everyone's favorite priorities by default–not because every health expert wants you to feel neurotic about your body or get motivated by self-hate.

Simply trying to prioritize your health (without measuring yourself up against the size of celebrities' thighs) is confusing and stressful–no less this time of year. We don't think fretting over calories at Thanksgiving is a fun or healthy approach–but if you're like us, drinking and indulging in any and all holiday treats for an entire month (or more) just doesn't feel good, regardless of what happens to your weight.

You should eat how you want, work out how you want, and do whatever else makes you happy. But if you're here at Blisstree, we're assuming that being healthy is part of what makes you happy–and we believe that it's possible to prioritize health for reasons other than your dress size.

When done right, we think healthy holidays are the best kind of holidays: They mean less stress and more energy for enjoying friends and family–and most importantly, for enjoying yourself. So as always, we're here to help you get enough sleep, manage your stress–and yes, eat healthy…in addition to the Christmas cookies and holiday cocktails we hope you'll enjoy, too. Not all of you need to eat gluten-free or steer clear of dairy, but if you do, we want to help you indulge and have fun while sticking to the choices (and yes, “diets”) that make you feel best.

Photo: Karen H. Ilagan / Shutterstock