Cut yourself some slack. 

The holidays are a time centered around food. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah, it's expected for friends and family to gather around a lovingly cooked meal. While the tradition of getting together to feast is a wonderful one, it can sometimes turn into a stressful time for those worried about healthy eating. Which is where our main holiday rule comes in: practice self-forgiveness. 

While this may sound like some strange New Age strategy for the holidays, it's not. Self-forgiveness is simply the act of choosing to focus more on the celebration factor of these meals instead of the calories consumed. Avoid calculating the contents of every bite you take or skipping making your favorite dishes because they may be a little fatty or sugary. If there's ever a time of year for eating what you're truly craving, it's the holidays.

A single day of indulgent eating won't ruin your healthy lifestyle; it may even make you more inclined to practice mindful eating and truly appreciate your meals. Focus on how much you're enjoying your grandmother's gravy that brings out the flavors in her famous turkey, or zone in on the delicate texture of the shortbread crust in your cousin's pumpkin pie. When you embrace eating, you'll walk away from the dinner table feeling satisfied and not focusing on your guilty conscience.


At Cooking Light, we deliberately try to avoid using the word 'guilt' when writing about food. It's an easy, and insidious, buzzword to use in the healthy eating realm, but one that can give off bad connotations. "The thing about guilt is that making people feel bad about their food choices is wrong," says Cooking Light editor Hunter Lewis, "Healthy is personal, you define what it means to you. The Cooking Light brand of healthy is inclusive, empowering, and fun—the opposite of guilt."

So, as you gather with friends and family this holiday season, give yourself a break. Live in the moment and embrace the spirit of the season, all while enjoying a wonderful meal.