I often get questions about how to handle the holidays in the healthiest way possible—specifically how to maintain a healthy diet at family gatherings, parties. I thought it was a great time to write about this, but before I do…
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Ok, now on to the holidays…
In my podcast I talk often about one’s M.O.T.T. It stands for Most Of The Time, and my approach is that health and happiness come not from trying to do anything ALL of the time, but rather are a result what you do Most Of The Time. That goes for physical nutrition, and what I call in my book ‘Mental Nutrition’—what we feed our bodies and minds. As we learn more about health, it’s easy to fall into an ‘All of the Time’ way of thinking, and in doing so create expectations for ourselves that I believe are unrealistic and sources of stress—that we must eat healthy food ALL OF THE TIME, exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY etc. The problem with approaching life this way is that as we end up devoting an inordinate amount of time to one area of our lives (e.g. the food we eat), instead of learning how to effectively balance all the areas of our lives. For instance, I’ve seen many people now who spend so much time thinking about food—what they can and can’t eat, measuring, counting, weighing—that their work, social lives, and ironically, their physical/mental health is sacrificed. Because in today’s world there exist choices around food that simply do not exist in the wild, we have to take great care to achieve and maintain the best balance possible in order to live as healthy and happy as we can. This means sometimes stepping outside of a daily routine for the purpose enjoyment of your life as a whole.
For this Thanksgiving, we had an awesome feast with our extended family that, while not as healthy as our day-to-day eating habits, couldn’t have been more fun. Because it is unfortunately a rare occurrence to have our extended family together in one place at the same time, the health of the meal was of far less importance than the enjoyment of the gathering itself, which made the time with family all the more fulfilling. Also, my family’s MOTT is such that we are very happy and healthy, making a single meal like this super fun and not at all detrimental.
I believe that to be as healthy and happy as possible means learning to create a M.O.T.T. that works for you (and getting there via my small steps approach), so that a one-off “less healthy” meal now and then is not only doable, but actually more enjoyable since there’s no guilt or regret around it. Never being able to stray from your day-to-day habits quickly becomes restriction, militancy, and therefore stress. Taking a day off from exercise or partaking in a not-as-healthy meal now and then affords you much needed moments to take a breath, get some perspective, and, if you’re a small stepper, assess your steps list to see if there are adjustments you’d like to make.
I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season!
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Well said Sid, as always. I hope you and your family had a very happy Thanksgiving.
Thanks as always Padraig. Hope you’re doing great.