No Guilt-Driven Living

in All Posts

Here’s something awesome: a married couple (accidentally) getting a hotel room with two full beds.  I slept all alone and had the best night’s sleep in… months!




The entire trip to Hagerstown has been such a whirlwind of excitement (did you see the results?!).  We woke up bright and early to drive back to Baltimore and catch a flight home.


We stopped off at the hotel’s breakfast bar for a to-go meal.  I was excited to see oatmeal on the menu!


I got a giant bowl of steel cut oats, which I topped with brown sugar and a sliced banana.  Just like I would make at home!



Our flights are from 12 – 3 PM, so I knew we needed to eat lunch before we got on board or take it on the flight with us.


Let the hunt of vegetarian and healthy airport options begin…


We checked out a few Italian places, a Quinzos, a McDonald’s, and a cafe, but we finally settled on the Green Turtle restaurant because there was a veggie wrap on the menu.


Bloggin’, yo.


Unfortunately, the veggie wrap had avocado (and not much else) in it – and I’m super allergic to avocado (I hear I’m missing out on something amazing).  So I opted for the egg wrap.


I was craving a really healthy lunch, but this was the best the Baltimore Airport D Concourse could turn up for me.  I asked about a fruit side, but the waitress said the fruit was a lost cause because it was soaked in corn syrup.  At least it tasted good!


I wanted to eat something healthy for lunch because my body was craving it… not because I felt guilty for something.


I was thinking this morning about healthy eating and guilt during the holidays and wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.  I’ve been getting a bunch of press release emails and newsletter blasts about “How Not to Gain Weight During the Holidays!” and “Avoid Holiday Party Weight Gain!” 


First of all, if you make a halfway effort to eat healthy throughout the holidays, you’re not going to enter the New Year with a fitness disaster on your hands.  Secondly… and I really mean this… if I gain 5 pounds over the holidays, who CARES?  It’s the freaking holidays! I know for a fact I’ve gained weight over the last two months (I don’t weigh myself but my pants are tight), but I just remind myself when I look into the mirror that, in the grand scheme of life, it’s not that big of a deal. 


I am so tired of these “How Not to Gain Weight During the Holidays!” emails because, to me, they are promoting a style of guilt-driven living.  Instead of just enjoying the holiday season and all the yummy treats that come with it, these emails suggest we should be overly focused on maintaining a strict diet. 


My motto? Focus on eating healthy for “un-special” meals because it makes your body FEEL good.  Enjoy your life at holiday parties and dinners.  That’s what the holidays are all about.  I refuse to life a live driven by guilt.  I want to make healthy choices overall because it makes me happy. 


(There seems to be a bit of confusion in the comments section so I just want to re-summarize my thoughts:  my issue with these emails is that they infuse a sense of guilt into eating, which I think it is 1) dangerous and unhealthy and 2) pointless because it’s the holidays and good food is part of the celebration.  As I stated above, I think you should strive to eat balanced meals the vast majority of the time all year, but there’s no sense in these guilt-driven ‘tips’ that serve to batter our self-esteem and make us overly focused on calories vs. satiety and celebrating.  I’m not suggesting it OK to enter into a downward spiral of binge eating, obviously.  But these articles act like it’s the end of the world if you gain a few pounds and it’s really not.  We need to get over the mentally that it is.  This is obviously just my opinion and my personal reaction to reading these articles!  They make me feel guilty and I don’t want to live like that.  I would love to hear your thoughts, too!)


Who’s with me?  Anyone else tired of the guilt-driven mentality?



  • Summer December 14, 2010, 11:21 am

    THANK you. Yes. I hate getting those emails, too! I try to indulge myself in the holidays by eating a little bit of everything I want. My rule: If I don’t love it, don’t eat it. Treat yourself, but don’t overdo it. That’s not good for ANY type of food.

    And I agree—I eat healthy things because I crave them and they taste good! (Goes back to my eat it if you love it rule!)

    • Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) December 14, 2010, 1:27 pm

      SO true. I really hate those emails–as though the most important thing to focus on during the holidays is weight gain–not family or tradition? Ridiculous!

    • Cindy Robinson December 15, 2010, 8:51 am

      Great tip Summer. I will remember this! I’m a bit of a mindless eater sometimes, so your “only eat it if you love it” advice is great 🙂

    • Allie @ Healthy Balance, Healthy Life December 15, 2010, 9:47 am

      I’ve been thinking the same thing with magazines, too! Before coming back from Maryland for thanksgiving I was looking for a magazine to read on the plane and none of them seemed good to me because all they talked about was avoiding weight gain over the holidays. I’d rather see “how to maximize your time with your family over the holidays” or “how to healthify the holidays”. This irrational idea that the worst thing that could happen to you over the holiday season is gaining weight is NOT healthy. Eat for health not for weight (and everything in moderation = healthy so enjoy a slice of that pie!) and enjoy the holidays everyone!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) December 14, 2010, 11:22 am

    i totally am, which is why i rarely ever buy magazines or pay attention to headlines anymore. it’s too much of a trigger to focus my life on how i look rather than how i live it!

    • Jane December 14, 2010, 11:39 am

      I agree with you about not looking at magazines in order to avoid those kind of messages. You’re right, we don’t need them in our lives – they’re just negative clutter. They act like they’re helping but they’re not!

  • Amanda December 14, 2010, 11:23 am

    First of all, congratulations on last night!! Secondly, something about what you said made me realize that I do kind of fear the holiday dinners and all that jazz. So silly! Even if I ate everything on my plate over the holidays, I maintain a healthy enough lifestyle that it really doesn’t make a difference to my health. Thanks for identifying a negative thought that I didn’t even know I was subscribing to!

  • Katy(The Balanced Foodie) December 14, 2010, 11:23 am

    THANK YOU! That’s all I need to say about that. I’m with you 110% on that. I look for healthy options, because my body is craving it and splurge whenever I want! It’s only the holidays once a year. Let’s enjoy ourselves. Okay..that’s really all I’m going to say about that. 😉

  • Cyndi @ Weightless Life December 14, 2010, 11:24 am

    I totally agree. I’m sick of being told that I need to deprive myself to stay lean and fit through the holidays. Even if I do can a couple of pounds it’s not a big deal, I know that I’m making choices that are right for me.

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete December 14, 2010, 11:25 am

    I hear you — and yes I get those emails too (and see the articles in magazines, etc). If I put on a few lbs over the holidays, its ok. I’ll get the weight off. But, I really don’t eat much differently because too much junk makes me feel sick!

  • Jackie (ananda prana) December 14, 2010, 11:26 am

    I don’t care, either!! 2 or 3 weeks of eating some extra cookies is not going to kill me. Only once a year do I get to see my extended family and I’m not going to feel guilty about baking for them… or eating the fruits of my labor 🙂

    Seriously… so sorry you are allergic to avocado 🙁

  • Alexis December 14, 2010, 11:26 am

    I totally agree. Thank you for writing this! It’s been driving me nuts hearing all the insane diet talk 24/7. It’s all about balance, right? 🙂

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat) December 14, 2010, 11:28 am

    What a great way to put it. Most of the time, I search for healthier options at the airport not because I’m not flexible but because I don’t want to end up feeling like crap on the plane. I also try to keep fun-eating for parties…and nightly dessert. I, too, have gained a couple pounds this last month but seriously, who cares? It’s freezing outside. We’re bundled in big clothes anyways. We need the extra to keep warm.

  • mindy @ just a one girl revolution. December 14, 2010, 11:28 am

    Completely agreed! I’m not going to NOT enjoy my favorite holiday treats…but I will (try) to be aware of just how much I enjoy them. I think the holidays are like anything in life, it’s about moderation. In the grand scheme of life, Christmas cookies are well worth the couple pounds I might gain!

  • stephanie p December 14, 2010, 11:29 am

    You are inspiring and a breath of fresh air. You deserve every good thing that comes to you.

    • Nazish December 14, 2010, 1:12 pm

      Stephanie, agreed!

      You are an inspiration HTP 🙂

    • Sarra December 14, 2010, 5:11 pm

      amen <3

  • Madeleine @ Stepping to the Bright Side December 14, 2010, 11:30 am

    YES! Life’s for living, not for depriving yourself of a great thing- especially during a time of year that’s supposed to be about togetherness, sharing and love. I say take ADVANTAGE of the holidays!! If you’re taking care of yourself for most of the year, you should have nothing to worry about 🙂

  • JenRD December 14, 2010, 11:30 am

    Amen to that! Women’s magazines are always promoting quick ways to drop 10 lbs, or look better in your swimsuit, or, as you discussed, how not to gain holiday weight. Yet at the same time, they claim to promote improved health and fitness and self esteem? How contradictory and hypocrytical. How long is it going to take for us to realize, as a society, that diets simply do not work? Especially ones that are guilt-driven. What that does is simply make us desire the forbidden foods that much more, and it all backfires. Believe me, I am a registered dietitian and I see it all the time. That is why I do not promote dieting at all, but maitaining a healthy balance, as you encourage.
    I also find that when I am outside of my normal eating routine and don’t get my usual quoata of veggies and fruits and whole grains, I feel more tired less satisfied with my foods. Last weekend was a good example, which involved a road trip and night out for a birthay, filled with Mexican food, road trip food, and cocktails. Much enjoyed, but my body craved the greens when I returned! 🙂

  • Anna @ History Running Girl December 14, 2010, 11:30 am

    I think the problem is for a lot of people it becomes MORE than just the holiday season. I don’t mind tips for staying healthy during the holidays. I think it is important for people who have just started a healthy living journey and maybe it isn’t second nature for them.

    I don’t feel guilty during the holiday season, but I don’t want to fall so far off the wagon it is march before I’m eating healthy again.

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 11:33 am

      That’s a good point!

    • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday December 14, 2010, 11:45 am

      You’re right Anna.
      Not everyone finds it so easy to enjoy indulgent food in moderation. Often people say
      “f$&^ my diet, it’s the holidays! I only get this once a year!”
      which is great if you’re able to just eat one truffle or piece of yule log. But a lot of people will go overboard and all out binge during the holidays and end up feeling bloated, lethargic, and guilty.

      I think articles about healthy eating at the holidays are a great reminder that a diet of moderation should be exercised year round and that diet can and should include small portions of indulgences.

      So for anyone who does have problems with the holiday binge, don’t feel guilty about what you eat. Enjoy it! But don’t let that extra large piece of cake send you on a downward spiral of gluttony.

      • Anna @ History Running Girl December 14, 2010, 11:49 am

        Sometimes I like the email remainder of okay, chose what you want to indulge in and what you think is worth it. It makes so much sense, but isn’t something I would think about on my own!

        I’ve had the same problem with vacations. I think oh I’m on vacation and all of a sudden it is a month after I’ve gotten home, and I’m still going all out eating.

        • Jolene ( December 14, 2010, 10:33 pm

          I practice Caitlin’s mentality all the time, and I don’t think of it as “falling off the wagon.” I eat what I want, but I eat it in moderation.

    • Anna S @ History Running Girl December 14, 2010, 10:42 pm

      I think there is a big difference between “everything in moderation” and just “everything.” I don’t think what Caitlin does is falling off the healthy living wagon, but I think for someone who is new or just starting to try and eat healthy (like me), it can potential lead down that path.

      I think, there is a difference between indulging around special meals at the holidays and indulging every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and some emails help find that balance.

      • Lauren December 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

        The word balance is the most important word here for me. Sometimes the holidays are just so full of (and this is such an AMERICAN thing) EVERYTHING AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AT ONCE deal that a lot of people tend to get out of balance in all areas of life whether that be food, staying physically fit, or even remaining in the black financially. The holiday season makes it hard to stay balanced.

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story December 14, 2010, 11:32 am

    I actually talked about this a little in a video blog yesterday…I felt guilty at first, but then wrapped it up remembering what this holiday is about!

  • Shelly December 14, 2010, 11:32 am

    I do hate the fact that I eat out so much over the holidays- but mainly because it makes me feel really sluggish and over salted- not because I care how it affects my waistline. I just try to maintain my exercise routine and eat veggies when I get the chance and everything works out without my having to stress over it. I trust that if I indulge now, my body will *want* to get me back to my set point by craving lighter foods. (And visa versa, when I’m not getting enough fat or protein or carbs, my body definitely lets me know!)

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking December 14, 2010, 11:33 am

    I certainly don’t deprive myself during the holidays. If you’ve checked my blog in the past 2 weeks you’ll certainly see evidence of that. But I don’t actually mind those emails. They can be a nice reminder that I don’t need to eat 5 cookies every single day. It’s easy for me (and probably others) to get caught up in the mentality of “it’s the holidays! I can eat what I want!” And really, why? I end up eating cookies because they’re there and because I “can”, not because I truly want to. I agree we shouldn’t deprive ourselves (and I’ve baked and eaten plenty of cookies already!). But for me, those emails aren’t about guilt, but more about hey, let’s get some perspective…cookies are great, but you don’t need to eat them all. And you don’t really want to either. So maybe it’s all in the way you read them?

  • Kelly December 14, 2010, 11:34 am

    I really needed to hear this today. Thanks Caitlin! P.S. How do you get Kristian to sleep in a different bed? I can’t even keep Brad from sleeping on my side of the bed. 😉

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 11:37 am

      Hahahha I said yo. You sleep in that bed.

      • Jazz December 14, 2010, 12:21 pm

        Hahaha, I hope that happens to me on my next trip, last night the hubby was running a sleep- marathon.. I got kicked several times!

      • Mama Pea December 14, 2010, 2:43 pm

        This is the best thing I’ve heard all day.

        • susan (stepping off the coaster) December 15, 2010, 11:38 am

          my thoughts exactly!!

  • April December 14, 2010, 11:34 am

    I COMPLETELY agree with you!!! I work with people (mainly women) that have yo-yo dieted their whole lives. I help them see how eating real food and moving more will get them where they need to be – forget diets and restrictions and guilt. I am with you!

  • Liz @ Blog is the New Black December 14, 2010, 11:35 am

    I’m trying not to worry about what I eat, but I feel like I am def overdoing it!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 11:38 am

      So do I but we’ll be back in balance come janauary. 🙂

  • Rachel @Balance and Blueberries December 14, 2010, 11:36 am

    Agreed! It’s important to remember that not every meal is a special meal during December, and that you don’t have to always take advantage of the (daily!) barrage of Christmas cookies at the office. More will come! Make the ones you do eat count…grandma’s cookies, the ones you decorate with your kids, etc. It’s Christmas, after all, and what’s Christmas without a Christmas cookie!

  • Jane December 14, 2010, 11:38 am

    Yes, I am! Whenever I am with someone and we are about to eat something tasty and she (it’s always a she!) makes a comment like “Oh, we’re being so bad/naughty/I’m going to hate myself for this later,” I try to say something like, “Well, as long as we’re enjoying it and not overdoing it, I think this is awesome!” I just try to shut guilt out of the conversation.

    Reading French Women Don’t Get Fat was a real wake-up call for me regarding living that way, it really helped me change that mindset and get into eating (and exercising) for pleasure and health, rather than equating eating with naughtiness and equating exercise with atonement.

  • Dani December 14, 2010, 11:38 am

    I am allergic to avocado too!! I get the worst stomach ache for at least 12 hours if I eat it. People’s reactions to that news is always so funny…its like they can’t believe such a thing could happen. I make guacamole for my boyfriend sometimes and I have to rely on his taste buds to know if it needs more or less of something. Glad to hear I’m not alone!

  • Mandy December 14, 2010, 11:39 am

    Yesterday I finally snapped and unsubscribed from various “healthy” email lists – I’d had enough of the “avoid holiday weight gain tips” insulting me in my inbox. Feels good!

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence December 14, 2010, 11:40 am

    I definitely agree with you- this is a time to have an extra treat at a party and not feel bad about it. I just don’t want to go down a slippery slope and have it continue in January, you know? 🙂

  • christina cadden December 14, 2010, 11:41 am

    I like avocado but Mr. Guru loves it! Sorry your allergic!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 14, 2010, 11:42 am

    I agree!! I ALWAYS gain about 5-8 pounds during the holidays, but it doesn’t bother me because by mid-January, it’s already fallen away. The holidays were meant to be ENJOYED, not dieted through!

  • Orla December 14, 2010, 11:43 am

    Totally Sick of it! If you were to take them seriously, you would never eat out on a Saturday night, or on a birthday, or on your holidays etc. It is all about doing what you do for the rest of the year. If you eat well most of the time, who cares if you eat mince pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner – I did on Sunday but I loved every minute of it and I ate clean on Saturday because I wanted to!
    COngrats again on your great win and a super result for GOTR!

  • Jen December 14, 2010, 11:45 am

    THANK YOU! I love your eating philosophy! And – Congrats on your win! You deserve it!

  • Cate December 14, 2010, 11:46 am

    I totally agree with you on this! Guilt about eating is a horrible feeling, but focusing on eating healthy for the “unspecial” meals really does work. Plus with all of the people around for the holidays there are lots of people you can exercise with whether it is a family walk to look at lights in the neighborhood, a game of whiffle ball, skating, bike ride, whatever. It makes it more fun with other people around.
    and really who cares if you gain some weight, if you enjoy the season and spending time with loved ones, that is what truly matters. 🙂

  • Katy @ A Healthy Shot December 14, 2010, 11:46 am

    I pretty much agree with you- I’ve been getting those emails too 😛 I told myself that if I stick with my healthy habits for the most part, I should be able to enjoy special meals with my family and friends over the holidays. I know that if I blow my healthy habits completely just for the sake of the holidays, I’m going to regret it come January and it’s going to be extra hard to get back on track. Hopefully I can find a good balance 🙂

  • Lauren December 14, 2010, 11:46 am

    I agree! I always eat a lot of sweets during the holiday, but I enjoy them! I try to keep up other normal habits during the holidays like exercise and eating my fruits & veggies (because I love them!).

  • elise December 14, 2010, 11:46 am

    Elise again — this is the second time I’ve commented on a blog in like, a year, and the first time was your blog too… I rarely feel the need to comment but you just say things PERFECTLY.

    You don’t make your positive body image mantras over the top and hard to listen to (preachy, grandiose, etc.) but rather say them in a way that makes me believe them and adopt the same attitude.

    PLEASE keep talking about stuff like this. You’re helping me (and others, I’m sure) more than you know!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 11:48 am

      Thanks girl!

  • Me-Linh @ Sweet and Sweat December 14, 2010, 11:47 am

    I agree-what’s the point of celebrating the holidays without treats? I keep on seeing articles about how to swap certain ‘unhealthy’ holiday foods with healthier versions.
    Um. No.
    I only eat pumpkin/pecan pies during the holidays and dammit I’m going to enjoy them and not eat the “healthier” versions. Whatever they may be!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 11:50 am

      BawhHAhHa and this is why I put two sticks of butter in my sugar cookies

  • greenbean December 14, 2010, 11:48 am

    love it! eat healthy because it makes you feel good. that’s an easy mantra to follow.

  • Michele December 14, 2010, 11:49 am

    CONGRATULATIONS – soooooooooooooo happy you won!!!!

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete December 14, 2010, 11:50 am

    I completely agree with you. I have been getting those stupid emails too. And they DO make me feel guilty from the brief second I read the subject before I delete it even though I know I shouldn’t be.

    I have been eating like it’s my job at all the holiday parties that I have been too, and why not? Life is toooooo short to not ENJOY a little indulgences.

  • Heather December 14, 2010, 11:50 am

    Congratulations on the win, that’s awesome! 🙂

    And I’m with you on not being guilt driven. Enjoy the holidays, they only come around once a year! When else can you eat peppermint bark anyway?!

  • Andrea December 14, 2010, 11:51 am

    I agree with you…kind of…
    Messages like these are what contribute to the increase of gym membership sales by 5 million percent (not a real stat) in January! On the other hand, they don’t make me personally feel guilty, but rather serve as reminders that I work hard to eat healthy and maintain my fitness all year because it makes me feel good, and changing that lifestyle to overeating and decreasing my workouts for a few weeks would be out of the ordinary for me.

  • Kelly December 14, 2010, 11:52 am

    First off…I will fully admit that every so often I LOVE sleeping alone without my husband because I can stretch out and I always sleep really soundly. I actually told my husband that once and he got so upset…I had no idea that saying that would hurt his feelings! Oops.

    Second, the healthy holiday emails. I don’t really mind them. I think they do have some healthy tips in there for people. I do think that a lot of people completely go overboard and lose all sense of self control over the holidays. Not everyone is as health conscious as you and not every know what it is and what is not healthy. I know that sounds weird but true story: (I am a nutritionist) and I have a client who has low iron levels and she doesn’t want to take an iron supplement. Well in going over her food choices from last week she told me she had made a good food choice because instead of eating chocolate as a snack she opted for 2 slices of pumpkin pie because that was a healthy iron option. So see? She in all honestly thought she had made a very healthy choice!! Whereas we know there are healthier options for getting iron into your diet. So I think those emails annoy you because you have a grip on healthy and mindful eating but not everyone does and those emails help them keep control over the holidays. I don’t think it preaches restriction but more like moderation and I don’t think that is a bad thing.

  • Balanced Healthy Life December 14, 2010, 11:54 am

    I might be the only person who doesn’t agree with you, but as a trainer and gym owner I have a lot of clients and members who need help a lot more during the holiday season. Yes, you can induldge in guilt free snacking, sweets, parties, cocktails, but you also have to remember to balance your other meals for the day by making smart choices, getting good sleep and trying to be active on most days of the week. I think the emails are great tools for people who are trying to lose weight, manage health problems or people who are just starting out on their journey to a healthy lifestyle. I think they remind people it is okay to induldge, but you can’t induldge for days on end. For those who are at their healthy weight, exercising and already have the knowledge of how to eat healthy, they might find the emails to be overkill.

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances December 14, 2010, 11:55 am

    I totally agree with you — I am sick and tired of getting the emails and twitter alerts about “staying on track this holiday season” and whatnot. AND I really, really hate when food are described as “bad” or “naughty”… the only bad foods are the ones that can give you food poisoning or make you sick in some other way, as far as I am concerned.

  • Sarah for Real December 14, 2010, 11:56 am

    I honestly disagree with the whole holiday eating thing. Why is mass quantities of (mostly mediocre) food even part of the Holidays???

    Food does not equal love.

    Just like gifts or money spent does not equal love. For me the holidays are about spending time with my family and friends. Pie and drinks, appetizers and mashed potatoes in mass quantity are not even on my radar. I eat like normal for the most part, balancing out meals that include drinks and dessert with large plates of veg because, like you said, it makes my body feel good.

    • sarah December 14, 2010, 8:12 pm

      This is what I was thinking! I eat the same as I would at a birthday party or barbeque or just out to dinner at a special restaurant. I don’t think any type or amount of food is worth feeling sick or bad.

    • Laura December 15, 2010, 1:00 am

      “I honestly disagree with the whole holiday eating thing. Why is mass quantities of (mostly mediocre) food even part of the Holidays???

      Food does not equal love.”

      This. I actually appreciate holiday eating reminders because when I’m not mindful of what I’m eating I’m eating too much and not enjoying most of it–and although some people might burn their extra holiday pounds easily, others are trying to shed 100 or more pounds and can’t afford a set back right now.

      And while I understand food being a part of the holiday experience, it’s given way too much importance by people in comparison to other aspects of the season. It’s just food! Food is not more important that people, or giving, or enjoying time with your loved ones. And it’s amazing how huffy people get about it! No one’s trying to take away anyone’s cookies or deny anyone the pleasure of them. Maybe all the sugar is making people crazy :).

      • Caitlin December 15, 2010, 9:52 am

        I do agree with you guys on many levels. Obviously I love food but its not the primary point of the holidays at all!

  • Kelly December 14, 2010, 11:56 am

    haha that same thing happened to me and the bf when we went to his brothers wedding. He wanted to switch to a room with a king bed, and I was like NO this is WONDERFUL!

  • Rachel December 14, 2010, 11:58 am

    Nicely written!

  • Kim December 14, 2010, 11:59 am

    It’s like you heard me talk to myself this morning and now you’re giving me a response. I don’t feel guilty about food. In that area, I’m balanced. I feel guilty when my body is so tired…it sleeps in. I think “I should be running! I should be at the gym” I beat myself up for not resting more so I don’t miss workouts. Then, the next three days after a missed work out, I go all out running, etc. Then, I get tired. Sleep in. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Terrible!

  • Amanda @ RunningOnCoffee December 14, 2010, 12:00 pm

    I’m pretty sure the food is why I like holidays. Mostly the Christmas cookies, actually.

    Now I just have to apply the no-guilt-driven-living thing to other areas of my life. Like, my family. As I’m pretty my mother’s main mode of interaction with me is trying to instill guilt (re: holidays, living 6+ hours away, etc).

  • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks December 14, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Hear, hear!

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) December 14, 2010, 12:03 pm

    I love this and have been having a lot of the same thoughts recently. I don’t want to deprive myself at this time of year — not that I normally deprive myself, but I want to find a balance between the holiday ‘extras’ and my normal lifestyle.

    There *can* be balance and you *can* have both. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too — and share it with friends and family. 😉

  • Linda December 14, 2010, 12:03 pm

    beautiful words! I agree with you! =)

  • Nikki M December 14, 2010, 12:03 pm

    LOVE THIS POST! Thank you 🙂 I was feeling the same way this week, add PMS in and what do you have? Me, feeling down because the scale jumped up 2 lbs….I needed to read this, thanks so much!!!

  • Leanne December 14, 2010, 12:06 pm

    I want to get back to the healthy me… I feel like I’ve lost that person. Any advice? I feel hopeless right now 🙁

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 1:34 pm

      Make one healthy choice today. Make
      tomorrow. Keep it simple!

      • Cyclist Kate December 14, 2010, 4:30 pm

        Yes, and be patient with yourself!

    • Anon December 14, 2010, 10:01 pm

      I feel this way also. I completely swing overboard with eating. And I fail to exercise (but that is also health-related prevention). I’ve completely lost who I was phsycially.
      I think the key for me is to just do it. If it happens – I overindulge, I eat too much, I sit all day – it happens, accept it and refuse to feel guilty. Just let it day try to be peaaceful. No guilt or worry about always “messing up”. Let myself. Accept it.
      Have faith that in time, something will come together.

      I relate to what Caitlin said about how it only leads her to feel guilty. That is exactly how I feel. When someone drones on about not exercising…I feel like hiding under my bed (I literally am unable to physically exercise). And when someone laments eating one little thing before bed…I feel horrible for late-night “big” eating…and early morning breakfasts.
      Same goes with people’s occupations. I have to work 10 hour days to make what most people in high school make. When I hear people complain about how their apartment or job is not enough…I die a bit inside. I have no furniture, and a job that pays nothing and kills me inside.
      It’s my own “thing” to feel that guilty reaction.
      But, like Caitlin said…I guess I can just decide that I dont’ need to feel that guilt.

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 14, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Good for you for not falling into the guilt-driven mindset and traps…and yes, over the holidays the emails campaigns are relentless. And annoying!

    And I am all about Sprawwwwwwling outttttt in bed. Nothing quite like a blissful night’s sleep when I have my own space! Love the hubs, but yeah, stretching out my legs feels great…! 🙂

  • Melissa December 14, 2010, 12:10 pm

    Great post! About a year or so(?) ago I made the decision to stop qualifying my eating choices in the terms of “bad” or “good”. I truly believe that a balanced diet can include anything in moderation and I felt that I was mentally sabotaging myself everytime I thought about eating in “absolutes”. What started as a week-long challenge to myself, has stuck! I think of making a “healthy” choice of a “less healthy” choice and know there needs to be an appropriate balance between the two. Food is meant to be enjoyed and you can really enjoy *anything* if you’re feeling guilty all of the time!

  • allison marie December 14, 2010, 12:13 pm

    I totally agree! The thing is, once you realize you want to enjoy your food and you listen to your body (even when your body is asking for a cookie!), you’ll find you crave healthy options more. Our bodies are smart, and even if you do gain some weight over the holidays, if you just listen to yourself, you’ll find that the “extra” weight is gone before you know it.

  • Emily December 14, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Yes I am so with you on this! I know that I have put on a few pounds and more importantly for me, lost a bit of muscle tone in the past few weeks..but I know that is due to stress and grad school craziness. I am much more concerned with becoming more relaxed and enjoying my life than I am seeing a certain number on the scale. I want to be happy and joyful over the holidays, not stressed and calorie counting. I have had a holiday season in the past where I was trying to obsessively exercise and control my diet and meals and let me tell you, it was not a very fun holiday season for me! This year is all about stress free fun 🙂

  • Lily's Health Pad December 14, 2010, 12:17 pm

    I’m totally with you on this one. We’re supposed to be enjoying the holidays! (and the foods that come with them) How can you really enjoy something if you’re constantly worried about weight gain.

  • Ali @ Ali on the Run December 14, 2010, 12:18 pm

    I wrote a really similar post on my blog yesterday!! Enjoy the holidays—that’s the POINT!

  • kalin December 14, 2010, 12:20 pm

    i have a long standing lack of guilt in my life. (there used to be a joke about “kalin, you can’t be catholic-you never feel guilty!”)
    i just did a post with my holiday tips. it involves things like embracing the holiday booze.

  • Kiran December 14, 2010, 12:27 pm

    I totally agree with you.. The stigma about losing weight over holidays loathes me.

  • Jillian@ Reshape Your Life December 14, 2010, 12:28 pm

    I love this post! This is exactly how I like to look at eating in general… ONE big calorie dense meal here or there is not going to ruin my weightloss… It’s about balance. People should really look at the bigger picture, they will be much happier when they do!

  • Heather December 14, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Amen to the sleeping in your own bed. My husband and I rarely sleep in the same bed. He works at night, (and snores, a lot) and we have two bedrooms so that he can sleep in peace when I’m up, and vice-versa. It’s awesome, and it has never affected our relationship negatively.
    As far as “healthy” magazines, I refuse to read them. I’ve found that most are just as negative as beauty magazines, but done in a sneaky way. I like to enjoy the holidays, but as someone who has lost a lot of weight, I treat it as one day. I don’t partake in leftovers for the next day or week, and I immediately get back to my normal eating. I’ve found that this helps me keep a balance between the good, and the fun indulgences I have.

  • Sarah December 14, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I was irritated at Thanksgiving when morning talk shows and blogs kept talking about healthy alternatives to Thanksgiving foods. It’s freaking Thanksgiving!

  • Gwen December 14, 2010, 12:40 pm

    I am SO with you! I even passed along part of your message to my Weight Watcher leader. We need to just be smart and enjoy the little things while being sensible for the not-so special things!

    And congrats again!

  • Allison December 14, 2010, 12:40 pm

    I go through the D concourse at Baltimore airport all the time flying Airtran between Tampa and Grand Rapids. The food options are really, really terrible. I usually end up eating at Quiznos or starving.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) December 14, 2010, 12:42 pm

    I love oatmeal being on menus now for breakfast! Helps me start my day on the right food! I never freak out about gaining weight. I eat right and what I want when I want. Life is too short to worry about that. The holidays are the time to enjoy the best life has to offer! Have a safe trip home!

  • emily December 14, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Yo! I’m actually trying to *lose* weight, but I’m still going to eat some goddamn eggnog!

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 14, 2010, 12:50 pm

    AMEN!! Sometimes I worry people will think I’m “compensating” when I eat lighter after a heavy meal, but that’s what my body CRAVES. Everything balances out. There’s no reason to feel guilty about heavy meals and Christmas cookies, just like there’s no reason to worry about not being as hungry for your next meal. Live in the moment and enjoy the holidays!

  • Amber K December 14, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I was just thinking the same thing! Everyone is always so focused on feeling guilty about everything. I want to just sit back and enjoy! Eating healthy most of the time is my choice, not a “have-to.”

  • Ella December 14, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Someone I follow on twitter, I can’t remember who, said the other day “I’m not concerned about beating the holiday bulge, I’m concerned about beating everyone else to the good holiday cookies”.
    Hah, totally my motto. Granted I’m young (I’ll be 21 in 2 months exactly!) with a pretty fast metabolism but after spending all of high school depriving myself I’ve found balance and my mind and body is just so much better and healthier.

  • Paige@Two Runners And A Brown Dog December 14, 2010, 12:53 pm

    When I was younger, I would view the holidays as an eating free for all. I could have whatever I wanted and in any amount, because it was “the holidays.” Unfortunately, that mentality didn’t last for just the holiday season. It was hard for me to get back on track. Thank goodness, I have finally learned that the key to my “happy weight” maintenance is moderation. It has taken me about 15 years to figure out that eating doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Balance and moderation are what keep me on the right track.

  • Camels & Chocolate December 14, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Caitlin, I too am super allergic to avocado! And I always get strange stares and responses of “how can you not eat avocado?” (uh, because I’ve had to go to the hospital when eating it in the past) and “I’ve never heard of anyone allergic to avocado before” (as if I’m making it up or something)! Glad I have a kindred spirit =)

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 1:56 pm

      Are you also allergic to latex?

      • Camels & Chocolate December 14, 2010, 1:58 pm

        Yes! Is there a correlation?

        • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 2:05 pm

          Yup! Cross-reaction. Also walnuts.

        • Erica Rose December 14, 2010, 2:10 pm

          Also a correlation w/ pineapple, just FYI…

        • Leah @ L4L December 14, 2010, 2:15 pm

          My friend that is allergic to latex is allergic to bananas, but not avocado.

        • Camels & Chocolate December 14, 2010, 2:16 pm

          Wow, I’m learning all sorts of new things today! I’m not allergic to walnuts or pineapple, though, oddly enough.

          And Lindsay, I would die if I were allergic to artichokes. Living in California, we cook them almost nightly! (Though living in California means I also have to go out of my way to avoid avocado!)

        • lindsay December 14, 2010, 4:18 pm

          it really stinks b/c he won’t let me eat them when he is around. and i love artichokes! and hearts of palm, which apparently are in the same family so he won’t eat those either.

    • lindsay December 14, 2010, 2:13 pm

      My fiance is allergic to artichokes and its the SAME thing. People always question it because it seems so random.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 14, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Totally with you! I’ve been having an internal battle with the fact that my pants aren’t fitting so well, but I totally agree with you! Thanks for the reminder Caitlin!

  • Tracy December 14, 2010, 12:59 pm

    BRAVO! Yep – tired of the magazine articles too. I laugh at the “tips”… Eat before you go to the party (Why would I do that when I’m hoping to try some new yummy deliciousness AT the party?!)… Don’t eat the things you can have anytime (I love crackers and cheese, and I can have it anytime I want, but I don’t, so of course I’m going to have some crackers with cheese at the parties/gatherings!). My husband’s department hosts this low-key, non-formal, after-work gathering every year. It is catered with various food stations. You might find me parked right next to the baked cheese wheel 😉 Well, that’s unless I’m over by the coconut fried shrimp. I do make my rounds at the veggie/fruit table though too – because they are also yummy 🙂 The cookie table is also to die for.

  • Lee December 14, 2010, 1:00 pm

    I was in that concourse at BWI flying home from Thanksgiving. I could not find anything to eat either. I ended up with two eggs and a yogurt from some little counter place.

  • shelby December 14, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Hey Caitlin,

    I’m glad that you’re enjoying the holiday season – this is a wonderful time of year for food, drinks, and fun. However, I’ve seen a few posts like this around the blog world over the last few weeks and I just need to say that I think your age and perspective are really limiting your ability to see what it might be like for others to deal with holidays and potential weight gain.

    You’re in your 20s and you’re thin. Talk to someone in their 40s or 50s or someone who is seriously overweight about the potential to “only gain a couple of pounds” during the holidays. For many people, serious weight gain (food choices + reduced activity) IS a possibility, and perhaps these articles are catering to that audience.

    Talk to someone who is overcoming an actual eating disorder, or who is coming off of a major weight loss. And I’m not talking about losing the 15 pounds that you put on during college. I’m talking about people who have lost 100+ pounds and overcome serious mental issues when it comes to eating and indulging. It’s not as simple as “just don’t worry about it and deal with it in January.”

    Like I said – I’m glad that this is your perspective and you’re enjoying yourself! You should! I am too – lord knows if you cut me open you’d find my insides packed with Lindt truffles and Chardonnay. 🙂 But – and I say this respectfully – this post and others like it come across as a tad dismissive and judgey of others who might not have it so easy.

    If you don’t like the holiday weight loss emails and magazine headlines, delete them or don’t read them. Don’t disparage others who have different backgrounds, needs and goals.

    Thanks for respecting my slightly dissenting opinion here. And sorry for writing a comment-novel.

    • Ella December 14, 2010, 1:25 pm

      While you bring up a very good point, as someone who suffered from a nasty eating disorder from age 13 up until pretty recently, its messages like this that helps promote a healthy relationship with food. For someone like me, it helps us not to see food as the enemy, and for someone who is overweight a healthy relationship with food can help kick a nasty binge eating habit. While it may be saying you’re gonna gain a few pounds here and there its helping people live a balanced life style to keep a steady year round weight loss, you know?

    • Kelly December 14, 2010, 1:31 pm

      I commented above but I could not agree with you more Shelby. Very nicely and respectfully put. I think your opinion is spot on.

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 1:45 pm

      While I agree with your sentiment, please note that I said you should eat healthy MOST of the time and not feel guilty for enjoying yourself at special occasions. That is a healthy relationship with food, mentally and physically too. The issue I have with these articles is that they infuse an intense sense of guilt into eating which isn’t right if you’re thin or not or young or older. The articles don’t teach people with ‘mental issues’ related to weight issues how to proactively handle indulgences at the holidays AT ALL (or, at least, none of the emails I’ve read have!). Instead, they focus on guilt-tripping you into restricting and obsessing about calorie counts throughout the holiday season.

      Thanks for your comment! It was interesting to read your perspective, though. I always like your comments! 🙂

      • Rachel Wilkerson December 17, 2010, 9:32 am

        This post and then Shelby’s comment really got me thinking. At first, I was in total agreement — F feeling guilty, just do what makes you feel good, especially at the most wonderful time of the year! That’s my philosophy!! But after reading her comment, I started to think about how I felt when I was actively trying to lose weight…and I remembered that I WANTED to read those tips on how to keep off weight gain during the holidays. I read every one! I sought them out! This whole conversation reminded me that even when we have the right intentions, sometimes it’s good to remember that it’s a lot easier to have a healthy body image when we are closer to our happy weight, or when we’re not single and looking, or when we aren’t actively working for every pound we lose. I think that even when delivered with the best of intentions, sometimes positive-body-image messages aren’t one-size-fits all, and I appreciated the reminder from Shelby and the ensuing discussion.

        • Caitlin December 17, 2010, 9:36 am

          I agree that there is no one size fits all (hah!) when it comes to healthy tips and magazine articles about eating around the holidays. Thank goodness there are a variety of blogs and magazines to serve different types of people 🙂

  • Kacy December 14, 2010, 1:05 pm

    I COMPLETELY agree! I could give a rat’s ass about my weight over the holidays. There are so many other things to focus on. I’ve completely stopped worrying about weight gain and loss over the last year and it has been the best year of my life. I just try to be as healthy and fit as possible and focus the rest of my energy on the real things in life.

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 14, 2010, 1:08 pm

    That’s so sad you’re allergic to avocado! I’m crying a little for you 🙂

    The “guilt-driven living” is part of my beef with Weight Watchers, but I won’t go into that here. Anyone who has ever worked with children knows that positive reinforcement works LEAGUES beyond negative!

  • Shanna @ Weight And See December 14, 2010, 1:12 pm

    I couldn’t agree more!!! I think it’s thinking like that that gets us into trouble during the Holidays in the first place. It’s giving food way too much power. It’s just food! Thanks for posting about this because I needed that reminder today!

  • Gabriela @ Fro-Yo Lover December 14, 2010, 1:23 pm

    I’m really glad you posted this, Caitlin!
    I feel the same way. People shouldn’t care so much about gaining weight over the holidays! In fact, food is the last thing you should worry about!
    Holidays are opportunities to be with your family and bond with your siblings. Not to freak out about a number on the scale!

  • K December 14, 2010, 1:27 pm

    THANK YOU. I totally agree.

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 14, 2010, 1:27 pm

    “I feel guilty eating this box of chocolate”
    “Why, did you steal it?”

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 1:55 pm

      baw hahah 🙂

      • Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 14, 2010, 2:35 pm

        I mean seriously…I might feel SICK after eating chocolate for lunch (it happens, especially when baking), but not guilty.

  • Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) December 14, 2010, 1:29 pm

    Those steel cut oats look phenomenal. I get so excited when those hotel buffets have oatmeal with brown sugar, berries, nuts, banana, etc. It’s ALWAYS the tastiest looking thing on the counter.

  • kellie December 14, 2010, 1:35 pm

    first, congrats on your success! you continue to amaze me at how many people you have touched and inspired (myself included!)
    also wanted to let you know that Ashley, over at is holding a contest for the nourishing body awards and i could not think of anyone who would be more deserving of this honor – just wanted to let you know i voted for you and also wanted to let other readers know they should head on over and vote for you as well. if it means more people will have the opportunity to learn about you and your message, than i think its worth it and the world will be a better place because of it!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 1:54 pm

      Thank you so much Kellie!

  • Carolyn @ EatWell. LiveWell. BeWell. December 14, 2010, 1:39 pm

    I just tired of the guilt I feel. Boo. I hate this feeling. I’m trying to work through these negative thoughts, but it has really been getting to me.

    Congrats on your big news with the Amway $10,000!!!

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) December 14, 2010, 1:40 pm

    Amen to everything in the last part of this post. I posted my 10 ways how I stay sane during this time of year a few days back, and the very last one was to just live it up and celebrate – it’s the holidays!!

  • Lindsey December 14, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I am with you! I’ve been feeling some guilt because I am back home for a month for the holidays, and while I eat pretty healthily on my own, my family doesn’t nearly as much. I was stressed over it, and then I realized, hey- it’s a month. My mom will be cooking lots of my childhood favorites, and I don’t want o miss out on these (free!) home-cooked meals because they’re not healthy “enough” for me. Of course, I love the way healthy food fuels my body, and I will do my best, but I’m not going to stress out over it!

  • Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon December 14, 2010, 1:58 pm

    Love it! THANK YOU for saying what I’ve been thinking all month. I love eating and living healthy, and for my regular meals I continue to do so. But during the holidays, I also love my once-a-year treats–gingerbread, peanut butter balls, and the fun that comes with holiday parties. If it turns into a fear-driven obsession, the fun leaves. I’m with you–let’s live it up!

  • Brittney December 14, 2010, 2:01 pm

    I totally agree with your attitude. I really kind of feel bad for people who won’t splurge a little on treats sometimes! I feel like they’re missing out on some of life’s little enjoyments.

    • Brittney December 14, 2010, 2:02 pm

      P.S. that was written while having one of your thumbprint cookies!

  • Erin December 14, 2010, 2:06 pm

    I just don’t get the articles at all. Perhaps because I’m not very holiday minded. I just live my regular life, like always. When cookies are around, I eat them if I want. If I want a salad, I eat that, too.
    I indulge on a regular basis–I guess maybe that’s the problem. People who only indulge during holidays. Seems crazy to me.

  • Mish@EatingJourney December 14, 2010, 2:07 pm

    I don’t read blogs during the holidays…because I can’t stand it. Just live people, enjoy–it’s not only about the food, it’s about family, friends, love..enjoy!

  • Sarah December 14, 2010, 2:09 pm

    I completely agree. Though I think these reminders definately have a place. those of us who live healthy lives tend to be more guilt ridden by these emails since they put pressure on us to be “perfect” or eat like normal instead of having balance.
    Unfortunately mst of America does not live this type of healthy life style and does not know how to indulge occasionally – they go overboard many if not all days (i.e. “fast food nation”. I think the focus should move toward healthy balance though and not cutting things out.

  • Maren December 14, 2010, 2:12 pm

    I am so incredibly sick of them too. I know what foods make me feel good and I know what foods make me not feel good. And sometimes 17 cookies makes me feel good, so if that’s the case, I’ll eat 17 cookies. 🙂

  • allison @ livingoneday December 14, 2010, 2:12 pm

    i heard on the radio this morning people gain an AVERAGE of 1 POUND during christmas and new years. ONE POUND!!!!!

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair December 14, 2010, 2:17 pm

    My boyfriend is out of town for the next 10 days and last night was my first night sleeping alone. O M G it was AMAZING!!! I, of course, told him that I missed him a lot but in actuality I slept through the night and had the best sleep I’ve had in MONTHS 😀

  • lindsay December 14, 2010, 2:19 pm

    My pet peeve is the little magazine tips (YOU ATE….NEGATE IT). Does it bother anyone else? You ate, you enjoyed it, now life a balanced lifestyle! 🙂

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion December 14, 2010, 2:23 pm

    I agree! I also agree with enjoying what you want during those “special” meals and eating healthfully for the others. If I eat crap all the time I feel tired, sick and unmotivated. In the grand scheme of things 5 pounds doesn’t matter.

    I gained 15 pounds during my 3 week long honeymoon. My view, I was only going to be on my honeymoon ONCE, I enjoyed dessert, pizza, pizza, pizza (more pizza- come on I was in Italy), beer and vino. When I got home, I didn’t diet. I ate the way I normally do and lost 10 pounds easily. It was alllll worth it!

  • Alina @ Duty Free Foodie December 14, 2010, 2:24 pm

    I agree totally – these types of holiday survival guides completely irritate me. Um, holidays are for fun and enjoyment. Let’s not forget that!

  • Sassy Molassy December 14, 2010, 2:26 pm

    Runners Trials had a great post about this recently…

    I say, embrace the holidays, but keep up some kind of exercise routine and healthy eating for your own sanity’s sake! 🙂

  • Rachel @ Bloomingbuzz December 14, 2010, 2:26 pm

    I am SO glad you wrote about this! lately no matter which way I turn I can’t get away from all the media out there and pressure to avoid holiday weight gain. I am on a break from running right now, and all the extra attention to adding exercise/not overindulging has really made this whole break a bigger struggle for me (and holidays a lot more stressful.) Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding us that it is OKAY and in the grand scheme of life, enjoying the holidays is FAR more important than being so worried about how much we weigh at the end of the season!!!

  • Kelly December 14, 2010, 2:33 pm

    I love Caitlin’s blog because people kindly disagree in the comments section. 🙂 It’s nice to hear both sides of a story.

  • Jodi December 14, 2010, 2:42 pm

    agreed Caitlin. 100%

  • Lauren December 14, 2010, 2:42 pm

    Thanks for a great post! I think articles should just simply be written on “How to feel good.” Just listen to your body and always strive to feel good. Everything else will fall into place. 🙂

  • Corey @ the runner's cookie December 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    Lots of interesting comments here. I am totally with you on those articles – SO sick of them because they make me feel like I need to walk around with a calculator and a checklist at a party! Never going to happen – when I’m happy, I eat well (mostly healthy) and I indulge a little (a little more over the holidays) and it’s totally okay with me. Everyone needs to find what works well for them, but I 100% agree that no one (overweight or not) should be provoked by such articles to feel extra guilty and obsessive.

  • Rachel December 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I agree with you, but then why are you freaking out about not finding one super healthy meal in an aiport. Kind of the same thing, no?

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 3:11 pm

      Hi 🙂 please re read the post. I think you missed the distinction. Also I wasn’t freaking out.

  • Haley December 14, 2010, 2:48 pm

    I. Freakin. Love. You.

    Seriously – I’ll admit that I worry about gaining weight during the holidays (especially in Hawai’i where there is such a strong connection between food and culture) and that I am currently challenging myself to be conscious about what I put into my body at this time of year. My view on holiday guilt is different because I’m learning how NOT to feel guilty by listening to what my body really wants (which most times isn’t sugar/wheat/dairy) and saying no rather than saying yes (saying yes is way too easy for me).

    But I fully agree – the overwhelming amount of publicity focused on “not gaining weight” is absurd. We should be focused on eating well and living happy, healthy lives

  • Hangry Pants December 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

    I totally understand people who say that for some it’s just not as easy as enjoying your treats and moving on, but to those people I am genuinely wondering whether the tips given in these articles and news segments are actually helpful? I mean most I’ve seen have been things like …. eat only one diced size of cheese and eat carrots instead of pita chips, or have one dessert. I mean is that even helpful?

    I think the inundation of these tips and news segments causes fear and anxiety in a lot of people. I think it makes people become unnecessarily hyperaware and focused on food. Of course, this is just my opinion, but I really don’t see how any of it is actually helpful to people who overeat.

  • Anne Weber-Falk December 14, 2010, 2:51 pm

    I’m just tired of the whole lose weight, don’t gain weight, do this don’t do that mentality in the media. I am not a small person. Sure I’d prefer to be a smaller size but I accept myself as I am right now. If I lose weight, hurray, if I stay the same then hurray. If I gain some over the holiday or while on vacation then so be it. I will get back to where I should be. It might take some time and that’s okay too. I find that if I deprive myself too much then later I will over indulge. I won’t feel good about that physically and mentally. I am what I am all the time and that is good with me all the time.

    • Anne @ Life is a Joy December 14, 2010, 3:24 pm

      The number on the scale does not define your worth! You are amazing and perfect just the way you are. Do what makes you happy and everyone around you will rejoice in your happiness. You are where you should be. 🙂

      Have a amazing and powerful day!

  • Caitlyn (A Spoonful of Life) December 14, 2010, 2:52 pm

    I completely agree with you. The guilt-talk in the media is overwhelming. We need more positivity(!) in the world regarding body image and food. Life and food are meant to be enjoyed. We should not worry, stress, and feel guilty about our body image and food. Thank you for bringing this topic up.

  • Carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) December 14, 2010, 2:54 pm

    TOTALLY with you girl! I completely AGREE with you…SO GLAD you posted about this

  • Jen December 14, 2010, 2:54 pm

    I do participate in holiday treat, but I try to make those treats healthier, mostly to allay my anxieties over a family history of heart problems; I know that one sugar cookie made with lots of butter isn’t going to induce a heart attack, but I still feel really anxious about consuming too much saturated fat in one sitting. I feel much better eating gingersnaps made with apple sauce instead of butter, just like I feel like I’m missing out on the celebration if I bring a banana for myself and everyone else is eating cookies and fudge. For me, lower-fat versions of classic recipes are an ideal balance and reduce the stress of holiday parties.

    Oddly enough, if I mention that I didn’t use butter and they’re fat-free, a lot of people won’t eat them!

  • Becca December 14, 2010, 2:58 pm

    I completely commend your commentary about living a guilt-free lifestyle. It’s something that I struggle with too, and while I haven’t quite reached the point where I’m comfortable with weight gain during the holidays, I am learning to let myself have meals where I just enjoy what I’m eating, even if it isn’t the healthiest option in the world. After all, what would Christmas be without copious amounts of chocolate??

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing December 14, 2010, 3:08 pm

    I agree with you. In the past, I let myself feel guilty over the holidays but now i just go with it and i’m SO much happier!

  • Anne @ Life is a Joy December 14, 2010, 3:15 pm

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I agree 100% with you and am happy to see so many others agree too. I was starting to beat myself up with not beign as careful as I am normally with food but your post this morning makes me smile. I know that taken as a whole, my lifestyle and eating habits are healthy and if I have a cookie or two or some warm gooey cheese, I’m not falling off the wagon — just making the wagon a bit more fun! I even had some birthday cake this weekend.

    Have a great guilt-free day. and super congrats on the win for GOTR.

  • Maura December 14, 2010, 3:17 pm

    Dude, I had to unbutton my pants on the way home from work last night. I started to majorly freak out until I told myself, “I lost 30 pounds the past 2 years…surely I can lose 5.” In a nutshell, simmer down.

    Congrats on the win…so happy for you and GOTR.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 14, 2010, 3:21 pm

    ugh those articles do my head in as well!!!

    Ps – just read your exciting news!! What a wonderful achievement – and a great result for Operation Beautiful 🙂

  • Delia December 14, 2010, 3:29 pm

    GOD yes. This is why I read your blog. I recently unsubcribed from a health related e-newsletter because I’m so sick of the prevading diet-mentality/culture in this country…if I read one more post telling me to eat 10 almonds and a low fat piece of cheese instead of a donut, or to suck on a sugar-free mint when I’m craving mint-chip ice cream (seriously, that’s straight from the last e-newsletter!) I’m going to scream. Thank you so much for being an intelligent and calming voice of reason.

    P.S. Congratulations on last night, and on all you’ve accomplished this year! I admire you.

  • Delia December 14, 2010, 3:29 pm

    GOD yes. This is why I read your blog. I recently unsubcribed from a health related e-newsletter because I’m so sick of the prevading diet-mentality/culture in this country…if I read one more post telling me to eat 10 almonds and a low fat piece of cheese instead of a donut, or to suck on a sugar-free mint when I’m craving mint-chip ice cream (seriously, that’s straight from the last e-newsletter!) I’m going to scream. Thank you so much for being an intelligent and calming voice of reason.

    P.S. Congratulations on last night, and on all you’ve accomplished this year! I admire you.

  • Whitney December 14, 2010, 3:32 pm

    I love how as soon as I said I was engaged on facebook, I started seeing ads on my home page on what the new Wedding “diet” is and how to lose weight for your wedding!! It annoys me everytime I log in! I indulge for the holidays and get back on track after that. Life is too short to be miserable and not eat what you want!

  • See Lo Run December 14, 2010, 3:45 pm

    OMG I am SO tired of those articles as well. Like the Thanksgiving ones that said “eat whatever you will enjoy, but only take about a tablespoon of each.” Ummm…hello? Really? I pig OUT on Thanksgiving and have a great time doing so.

    It’s a complicated issue though, because on the other hand we do have an obesity epidemic on our hands, where people eat too much, all too often. I have been had a weight problem in the past, so I know how hard it is, but the media making you feel bad for when you do eat too much is not going to solve this epidemic.

    Whew, that comment reads very complicated. Basically I agree with you 🙂

  • linds December 14, 2010, 3:46 pm

    i live in baltimore and since the airport is a southwest hub, it seems like ALLL the good/healthy options are in concourse a or b! (my fav is au bon pain!)sorry you got stuck with no options 🙁

  • Beth @ 990 Square December 14, 2010, 3:46 pm

    Next time you’re in Baltimore, give a shout out before hand! There are much better places to eat than the Green Turtle…especially the one in the airport! This Baltimore resident would love to show you around!

  • Cindy December 14, 2010, 3:51 pm

    I agree with you, but I wish I could believe in it personally. Since I’ve moved away from home, I’ve gained 20 pounds. 20 pounds on top of a weight that was already high to begin with. I haven’t worked out since my surgery, and I find it a struggle just to walk up my 4 flights of stairs to my flat. And I know the bad choices were mine, like no one else could see them. I made choices I would have never made- like it was a holiday. Maybe those emails are like a reminder that this is the holiday season, not an excuse to have your healthy habits derailed for good? Perhaps it is just me, and having spent my self worth over how I look and a number on the scale….. I think I lost my point somewhere.

    At any rate, I hope some day I can have a healthy mind and body and attitude toward food, and look how I feel I should on the inside.

    PS: I think avocado is gross. 🙂

  • Runeatrepeat December 14, 2010, 3:54 pm

    I tweeted the other day, “I don’t want to beat the holiday bulge, I want to beat everyone else to the holiday cookies!” And I got tons of positive response. I was surprised at how many people are tired of outside guilt from the “How not to gain 10 pounds this month” headlines.

    Seriously though, you missed out on the crab cakes in the Baltimore airport. Love.

  • Danielle in Australia! December 14, 2010, 4:13 pm

    Thank you for this post. I totally agree! What sort of life would it be if we constantly deny ourselves. I think it’s important to eat healthy on the whole but when there is a celebration, there is no harm in having something special. I think the key is to not binge on that something special and then feel guilty (for example “I ruined my diet anyway I might as well go for it and eat 10 of everything”).

  • Carrie H December 14, 2010, 4:19 pm

    Congratulations on the Amway award! So awesome! I voted for you some days from both my home and my work computer … hee hee.

    Also, thank you for this post. I still struggle with some leftover guilt about enjoying holiday treats (a hangover of sorts from disordered eating days, lol) but this year a want to do exactly what you say: eat healthy most of the time, enjoy treats, continue running and exercising, and NOT freak out if (when, ??, lol) I gain a few pounds. That is certainly not the end of the world. I have better things to worry about than that!

    Congratulations again!

  • Heidi - apples under my bed December 14, 2010, 4:21 pm

    wowsa, lots of comments! I completely agree with you. HOWEVER, I have a v healthy relationship with food and don’t have a weight issue. For people who are emotionally unstable they may find these ‘tips’ helpful. These people are already feeling guilty 24/7 about food, and especially at christmas time with so many temptations – it doesn’t take a lot to tip these people over the edge and into a binge eating episode (or binge eating month/season!). People like you and me find these tips annoying, unnecessary and guilt-driven, but I do feel it is different for people with an unhealthy food relationship. But within myself – I completely agree with you, sister! who care if I carry a little pudding baby for a few days over christmas? 🙂
    Heidi xo

  • duffy December 14, 2010, 4:22 pm

    HOORAY CAITLIN!!!!! This is awesome news! Congratulations – hope you and your husband can celebrate this! GOTR is so lucky to have you!

  • Cyclist Kate December 14, 2010, 4:40 pm

    I started intuitive eating almost two years ago and while last holiday season was my first “no guilt” holiday season and I enjoyed it to the max, this season I find myself not as interested in the food element of the holidays, and I think I’ve figured out why: we get so caught up in the “oh my god it’s the holidays and there’s all this food that I don’t let myself eat during the rest of the year so I’d better eat it NOW, while I have the chance and the holidays excuse.” Now, I let myself eat what I want when I want it. Holiday cookies in June? Check. Pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls in April? Check. I found myself yesterday getting caught up in all of the different family Christmas cookies that I “have” to make, and I realized, “hey, I don’t have to make these. I can make the kinds I want now, then if I want gingerbread mean in February, I can make them then.” I think a lot of people use the holidays as an excuse to binge eat because they generally deprive themselves through the rest of the year. If you stop depriving yourself, the urge to eat everything in sight while you “have the chance” is going to be pretty difficult to resist.

    Long comment even longer: My only holiday pact is to eat vegetables. Like Angela at ohsheglows, I just want a big heap of veg at least once a day to keep my energy up and my system flowing, otherwise I’m not going to trust that it will all balance out in time and I’m not going to worry about it.

    Finally, Lucy Danziger (Self’s editor) recently wrote a blog post about how holiday stress gets translated into “I feel fat.” That was a great reminder that feeling crappy usually is just feeling crappy and doesn’t necessarily mean I’m gaining weight. Took a yoga class this morning and made a pact to take extra great care of myself to keep myself feeling good through this season.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing up such a great topic! Those “deprive yourself” message annoy the hell out of me.

    • Cyclist Kate December 14, 2010, 4:42 pm

      Sorry, end of first paragraph was intended to say, “If you stop depriving yourself, the urge to eat everything…will go away.” Got my thoughts mixed up!

  • Amanda December 14, 2010, 4:44 pm

    Thank you for posting this!! I got yet another one of those “__ tips to beat holiday weight gain” and could pretty much recite them all in my head before opening the email. It may be helpful for some people, but for me, it makes me feel like a failure if I “overindulge” – what does that even mean anyway?? These kinds of articles are why people freak out and binge, because they overstep the boundary of “healthy” and all hell breaks loose.

  • Courtney December 14, 2010, 4:57 pm

    Love this post! What would the holidays be without cookies? LOL

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) December 14, 2010, 5:00 pm

    I am getting those emails too and they are driving me insane. For someone who has had poor self image and eating issues, these emails spark a little twinge of the past in me, which I don’t like. I’m focusing on continuing to eat healthy wholesome foods and indulging in moderation at celebrations.

    P.S- I posted an operation beautiful note today on my roadtrip.:)

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous December 14, 2010, 5:18 pm

    Love this post. It totally backs the exemplary way you lead your life…with balance. I’m back to working in an office a few times a week, so the office goodies have been a little challenging to pass up (I only did bc I didn’t REALLY want them), but I find that eating healthy when I’m by myself is harder than when I’m being social. I don’t know why! I’m craving fruit today though, which means I need more of it in my life, stat!

  • Alison December 14, 2010, 5:22 pm

    I have read your column for a while now and don’t usually comment very much. However, I wanted to today. First off I think you are amazing and inspiring. 5 years ago I would have completely agreed with this post. I could splurge at times and know my body would reset itself in a few weeks by going back to my “normal” diet. This was when I was your age. Unfortunately, as time goes on and I have entered my 30s it isn’t that simple anymore. A couple of extra pounds stay with me now and don’t just fall off when I return to normal eating. I agree that guilt driven ads are not good. I’m just saying to consider yourself fortunate that you have the ability to naturally “reset” your body when you return to your normal eating patterns. I wish mine was still like that! 🙂 Again, like I said, I enjoy your blog very much. Just wanted to give you a different perspective on this! Also, congrats on your award…I voted for you daily!

  • Sarah December 14, 2010, 5:23 pm

    I completely agree with you Caitlin, and there have also been a lot of articles out about holiday weight gain that say it’s not nearly as bad as you think!

  • Jamie @ Food in Real Life December 14, 2010, 5:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m soooo sick of it. And then we all know that next month will again be all about how to lose the weight and new years resolutions. I actually read an article today about why our bodies gain weight in the winter (and how we can FIGHT it). I guess humans are genetically disposed to gaining weight when it is cold in order to maintain body fat and basically SURVIVE in these kinds of conditions. It just reminded me yet again how truly amazing our bodies are, and what they can just DO on their own without us interfering. Instead we come along with our negative thoughts and obsessive diets and try and FIGHT some of the things that our body just DOES. And we try SO hard to fight the bodies that god gave us naturally because we don’t appreciate what we’ve got.

    Ok sorry this was really long, but I just can’t agree more!!

  • Angela December 14, 2010, 5:30 pm

    The way I see it is this – it isn’t a balanced diet if you can’t sometimes stuff your face with cake and enjoy it!

    Life is too short to worry about a few pounds that will be gone by the end of January if you lead a healthy lifestyle.

    Congrats on the award!

  • Errign December 14, 2010, 5:32 pm

    I’m with you Caitlin – sometimes holiday food is JUST FINE without modifications & in the grand scheme, it doesn’t make or break you. I think it’s when it carries over from the holidays to a new eating pattern that people start to see changes.

    Bottom line = If holiday food is wrong, I don’t want to be right, ’cause sometimes it’s DELICIOUS. (Like the warm sausage, rotel, and cream cheese dip I had last night. Looks and sounds like a puddle of puke, but tastes amazing! Worth it!)

  • MelanieF December 14, 2010, 5:37 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! That’s the best post I’ve seen lately about the holidays. I was watching the Today show this morning, and they were also talking about how to not gain weight during the holidays. And I was on my eliptical, doing my exercises and everything and I just thought to myself, who cares? It’s the holidays!!! Can’t we just enjoy the fabulous food and indulge. It’s like we have to feel guilty for eating too much good food during a really great family time. If you go back to normal after the holidays, it won’t do much harm. I’m not saying to eat a whole pie and cake too, but to eat as you feel like eating. And I would add this as well: just go for a nice long walk with your family after all that great food. That helps a lot with the not gaining weight part. I usually stay active during the holidays as well, so that helps. 🙂

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow December 14, 2010, 5:45 pm

    I’m with ya girl!

    Treats, indulgences, holiday goodness…it can all fit into your life. IT SHOULD all fit into your life. One of the greatest things I have ever read I posted about a few weeks ago- it was the definition of “normal eating.”

    And you know what I learned?

    Normal eating includes eating what you desire, it includes over eating sometimes and even under eating. The key is to trust your body, know that it will guide you and learn that food should taste good, feel good! I also learned that gaining a few pounds IS OKAY! Focus on feeling good, taking care of your body and everything will sort out as it should.

  • Mauimandy@The Grains of Paradise December 14, 2010, 5:52 pm

    Totally with you on the guilt free holidays! I eat healthy about 80% of the time so I can indulge when I really want to! Aloha:)

  • Laura (spokesnoats) December 14, 2010, 6:16 pm

    Amen! I heart this post with a passion. Thank you so much for posting.

  • Laura (Starloz) December 14, 2010, 6:35 pm

    i feel a million times healthier eat how i decide at home & being careful out. i seriously i want to feel good

  • Kristinefitness December 14, 2010, 6:37 pm

    YES, I soooo agree with the silly “beat the weight gain” comments and theories.

    Enjoy the season and choose the foods that will make you feel best physically, mentally, and emotionally.. that includes your favorite treats and taking part in traditions!

    The holidays are not evil, I hate that people make them seem that way!

  • Emilie December 14, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Working against guilt-driven living is such an important message to spread, regardless of the season. I struggle every day with feelings of guilt about most things I eat. I’ve been battling an ED for over a year now, so that should demonstrate how unhealthy and unhelpful those guilty feelings are! I’m working on developing a healthier attitude toward food and it is always great to read something that counteracts all the messages we get on a daily basis about how thin we should be, how little we should be eating, “good” foods vs. “bad” foods, etc.

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:53 pm

      I wish you the best in your recovery <3

      • Emilie December 14, 2010, 10:03 pm

        Thanks, Caitlin. I really appreciate that 🙂

  • Laura December 14, 2010, 6:54 pm

    AMEN! Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Sure, don’t eat cake for breakfast (every day) and eat healthy (most of the time) and enjoy your life!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 14, 2010, 7:03 pm

    I agree 100%. Lately I’ve been seeing all these articles about how to resist all those tempting treats at holiday parties. But that sounds like such a fun sucker! Who wants to spend holiday parties freaking out about calories when they could be having fun? In the grand scheme of things, having an extra brownie or Christmas cookie won’t matter!

  • Martha December 14, 2010, 7:18 pm


    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:51 pm


  • Jenny @ Rice n' Jeans December 14, 2010, 7:24 pm

    I agree with you whole heartedly on the mentality that people have nowadays on holiday wake gain. I know for a fact that just because you indulge a little during Christmas Dinner will not break your waistline if you follow a regular healthy diet. Holidays are meant for family and fun so what is the point of it if you can’t enjoy yourself!

  • sofia December 14, 2010, 7:31 pm

    caitlin, thank you for this post. i needed it! 🙂

  • Laura Ann December 14, 2010, 7:34 pm

    thank you! this was perfect timing for me!

  • Rachael December 14, 2010, 7:45 pm

    The kind of drivel most magazines puts out makes me think that they have a low, low opinion of women – forget family, the spirit of the holidays and philanthropy; clearly all we care about is keeping off pounds.
    Honestly, I think we forget that we’re animals, and during winter, animals put on weight. Maybe we’re a far ways off from scavenging acorns and living in caves, but it’s hard to kick a couple billion year’s worth of evolutionary patterns.
    Food and guilt should not be associated. Food and gratitude, methinks, makes more sense.

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:54 pm

      I call it my Adipose Jacket 🙂

      I agree with you – I am really interested in women’s magazines publishing more thoughtful content. I want to know more than how to not gain weight at dinner parties. Please!

  • Jaclyn December 14, 2010, 8:05 pm

    Caitlin, I’m SO glad you posted about this, I have been waiting for someone too – actually wondering if and when YOU were going to! I couldn’t agree more – It’s FREAKIN CHRISTMASTIME PEOPLE!! LIke a couple extra (dozen) cookies are going to hurt you in the long run.. I mean obv don’t go crazy all day every day, but what is life without some dessert, without enjoying the baked goods friends bring or the company holiday potluck room full of sweets.. everything in moderation, even moderation!!

    On another note, I have to tell you, I was out to dinner last night, actually in the bathroom and I had this sudden, INTENSE thought: I just KNEW you had won. I don’t know… but I got really excited for you and I couldn’t wait to go home and read about it later lol. 🙂 I’m so proud of you and all your efforts. You should be too 🙂 Congratulations Caitlin, what you have done is amazing!!!! 😀

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:55 pm

      That is so cool! Maybe we are mentally and spiritually connected!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit December 14, 2010, 8:08 pm

    I completely agree, thank you for this post Caitlin! You are an amazing and inspirational woman 🙂 Congrats on the contest too!

  • Kristen December 14, 2010, 8:10 pm

    My goal this holiday season is to gain a few pounds (my pants are a little loose and I’m not sure why) I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting an email with tips on how to gain, so perhaps you can send me those weight loss emails and I can do the opposite. Extra cookie? Yes please! Liquid calories? Double yes please!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:56 pm

      Hahah oh man. I will feed you extra cookies!

  • Emily December 14, 2010, 8:31 pm

    Great post! I hate all the diet tips and such during the holiday’s. It’s hard not to get bogged down with all of it. Also, congrats on the contest! That is truly awesome!

  • nicole December 14, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Amen sister! Have a healthy attitude but if you want a cookie or a holiday meal it’s not a big deal! I think this is the big difference between “diet” and lifestyle. If you’re on a diet then holiday treats won’t fit in, but if it’s part of your lifestyle it’s expected. I mean you’re not going to abstain from holidays your whole life, right? At least I’m not!

  • Danielle December 14, 2010, 8:37 pm

    Thank you, THANK YOU for writing this. I have had a rough last 3-4 days eating-wise…I had a bit of a junk food binge on Friday (after a night of drinking…ugh!) and with holiday parties yesterday and today, my eating’s been a bit out of control. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve gained a few pounds from just these last few days alone. However, I was eating a balanced diet before this and will continue to do that tomorrow and beyond.

    While my junk food overload on Friday night wasn’t healthy and I definitely wasn’t intuitively eating (it was more of a binge), it’s moments like that that remind me how wonderful eating healthfully is because you realize that when you feel crappy after eating boatloads of sugar, it’s just not worth it. Of course, when it comes to the holidays, it often IS worth it…and it should be savored and not missed out on 😉 Normally I would feel guilty for allowing one night to trigger my eating to go out of control for the last few days, but you know what? It happens. It happens to the best of us…and it probably always will happen because it’s life and none of us are perfect. When it happens on a daily basis is when you have a problem, but different events in life cause different reactions, and while using food for comfort isn’t necessarily healthy, we all tend to do it.

    Admit it, accept it, and move on! 🙂

    Thanks for giving me a mini soapbox/venting space! You rock!

    • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 9:57 pm

      You’re welcome! 🙂 You rock too.

  • Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy December 14, 2010, 8:55 pm

    HEARD THAT! You only get one Thanksgiving dinner, and one Christmas dinner a year – make the most of it, relax and let yourself enjoy it! 🙂 Wake up people, it’s the holidays!!! And seriously, that 5 lbs will be gone in a week or two of your normal healthy eating come January, so get over it and have fun!

  • Amber December 14, 2010, 9:08 pm

    Heck yes! I think that when you truly find your ‘balance’ with healthy eating (as in, you eat a certain way to stay healthy/good to your body, but allow delicious treats, too!), that everything just becomes easy!! Can’t wait for Xmas dinner!

    Althoughhh….I will say I’m getting married in June, so I’ll be eating pretty darn clean and hitting the treadmill in the months leading to the big day. 😉

  • Alyssa December 14, 2010, 9:12 pm

    I am sick of the guilt-driven mentality when it comes to “how to not gain weight during the holidays”, and when it is portrayed as “bad” to eat holiday desserts or dishes such as cheesy potatoes or whatever.

    I agree with your distinction between healthy tips and those that are guilt-driven, meaning that they make you feel guilty for indulging during the holidays.

    But I have a question: What do you think about articles/tv segments about how to eat healthy during the holidays?

    I feel like some of them talk about eating a balance of healthy and not-so healthy foods. But some of them seem to portray being healthy during the holidays as being somewhat restrictive, like eating the “low-calorie” version of your favorite holiday foods, or making low-calorie holiday recipes, which kind of pisses me off. I understand it is important to still eat healthy during the holidays, balanced with unhealthy eating, but ONLY focusing on stay slim tricks (while not mentioning it’s completely ok to indulge) creates a massive sense of guilt if you do indulge, even a tiny bit.

    I understand plenty of people struggle with anorexia/binge eating, body image, how to eat healthy, etc. and that people have different perceptions/reactions to such “holiday weight gain” messages, but I think one of the problems is the line between the messages that focus on balanced/healthy holiday eating and those focused on not gaining or losing weight during the holidays is blurred.

    I’ve been struggling with anorexia for seven years, and the holidays are hard because I already feel guilty almost 24/7 for what I eat now, let alone during the holidays. Like others who struggle with various eating issues, the added guilt from certain “holiday weight messages” further skews what one may think is healthy eating. I understand that moderately indulging is normal, but what about leftovers? What if I eat those holiday foods/desserts more than once, but in moderation? Is that bad, even though it’s a normal portion?

    Sorry for the personal deviation 🙂 (and by no means do I mean to play some sort of victim card), I’m just sharing what those who suffer from similar issues may think and feel when faced with such media messages. I’m all for healthy holiday tips, but when the goal is to not gain weight (or sometimes even lose weight) I get pretty ticked off :).

    Thanks for the awesome post! The holidays only come once a year, and it’s a shame certain messages make women feel guilty for what they eat or shouldn’t eat, as though they need to “fix the damage they’ve done” after the holidays are over.

    • Alyssa December 14, 2010, 9:12 pm

      OMG, I’m SO sorry, that was a lot longer than I thought 🙁

      • Caitlin December 14, 2010, 10:00 pm

        Haha I love long comments, it’s OK.

        I love healthy tips (obviously, I write a healthy living blog!). I think fun and new eating and cooking tips are awesome… I mean, who doesn’t like to learn a way to sneak in black beans into brownies (or whatever)? I guess I’m just specifically talking about the ones that overly focus on restriction tips pretending to actually be ‘health’ tips. Ugh!!!

        Ps – Leftovers rule!

        • Alyssa December 14, 2010, 10:29 pm

          I agree, I think the ones that overly focus on restriction are unhealthy and unrealistic to be portrayed as “healthy” eating tips. And leftovers do rule, which is why I eat them :). The guilt is something I’m trying to work through, it gets hard, but reading blogs like this helps remind me what healthy eating is and how illogical it is to be guilty for eating in moderation 🙂

  • Sarah December 14, 2010, 9:21 pm

    I’m with you 100% on this! Nobody should ever feel guilty for eating, and that’s something it’s taken me a long time to learn. And it’s soooo not fun to just sit there while the rest of the family enjoys all of the goodies! My biggest problem with these e-mails is that they only come around during the holidays. Tips (the good ones anyway) like these should be practiced all year long for a healthy balance, in my opinion. Parties happen at other times besides the holidays!

  • Clare @ Fitting It All In December 14, 2010, 9:21 pm

    Great and perfectly understood post! I had started to feel a little about the stomach pooch from a few too many cookies, but you know what? It’s the Holidays! And it’s winter! My body needs the extra bit to keep me warm:)

    Losing weight is for summer.

  • *Andrea* December 14, 2010, 9:52 pm

    congrats on the prize for GOTR – such a selfless act, you rock!

    i think measuring happiness based on weight is a lose-lose battle. if pants are too tight, buy another size. if you’re eating intuitively for the most part and being active/exercising, if your weight flluctuates now an again, who cares?! that’s how i feel. that’s why i don’t keep a scale either because it can drive you crazyyyy

    missing out on holiday treats is not worth it!

  • Krista @ Can't Survive on Yarn Alone December 14, 2010, 11:09 pm

    I think in reverse & rather of the people making the food that you aren’t “supposed” to be eating. They’ve put a lot of effort in it: finding a recipe/deciding on a family recipe; shopping for ingredients and making it through holiday mode crazy grocery land; prep work; actual cooking/baking time; decorating (if applicable); plating/packaging/arranging. I’m not saying I’ve baked/cooked and never had people refuse what I have made. I know there are allergies – peanuts are mine, and diet plans with points/counting/whatnot. To each their own but there is nothing wrong with a taste IMO. I always say if you want a cookie, eat the cookie. Just don’t eat the entire container in one sitting. Keep in mind too the container part I know happens. I’ve done this before and all you get is a stomachache.

  • Lisa December 14, 2010, 11:10 pm

    YES! Thank you for writing this! As an ED survivor and having had a poor self esteem for YEARS after I was “recovered” (not) I completely agree with you! Gaining 5 pounds doesn’t matter at all. Enjoying the company of those you love while enjoying delicious food is so much more valuable!
    I’ve basically stopped subscribing to Shape/Fitness/Self for that exact reason. Give me Runner’s World any day – they actually teach you how to fuel yourself to be the best you can be.

    • Caitlin December 15, 2010, 9:50 am

      YES – this is also why I like Runner’s World – very few articles on weight loss but lots of on how to eat healthy foods

  • Danielle December 15, 2010, 12:00 am

    AMEN to that! As a person in ED recovery, that is one of the biggest annoyances that I have. If you eat well most of the time, indulgences now and then aren’t going to make a huge impact. And as you said, in the grand scheme of things, who cares if you gain 5 lbs in the winter months. In any cooler climate, you’re wearing way too many layers for anyone to notice anyway!!

  • Laura December 15, 2010, 12:56 am

    Phew! I’m so overwhelmed with all the comments on holiday eating. When the real poignant message has to do with your avocado allergy!

  • Alison (Fueling for Fitness) December 15, 2010, 1:31 am

    I agree with the annoyingly large amount of “weight loss tips”. Just let us be to eat what we want during this time of the year! 🙂 Everything in moderation, even when it comes to making healthy choices!

  • Adam December 15, 2010, 1:56 am

    I love this post. Couldn’t help but comment to tell you that!

    • Caitlin December 15, 2010, 9:51 am

      Thanks Adam!

  • Jacalyn December 15, 2010, 6:21 am

    I’m with ya on the guilt free holidays, girl. If you focus on eating healthy all other meals, then what’s the big deal with a splurge at a party? Everyone should have 1 fat eating day a week to stay sane!

  • Gabrielle @ Weightless December 15, 2010, 8:56 am

    Amen, sister! I’ve been thinking all these “holiday eating tips” are annoying, but I hadn’t really drawn the link mentally to guilt. Great post.

  • Ali December 15, 2010, 9:49 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with this no-guilt idea!! If you say to yourself “I’m not going to eat anything “bad” over the holidays” it totally sets you up for failure, and feeling lousy about yourself. If you tell yourself you CAN’T have something,you just end up craving it and perseverating about the fact that you can’t have it. I say to myself that I’m going to eat ALL of my favourite foods in moderation, and you know what? By giving myself permission to eat whatever I want, I find that I end up eating so much healthy foods that I don’t even really want the junky stuff!

    • Caitlin December 15, 2010, 9:54 am

      I love the reminder that guilt-driven living sets you up to fail!

  • Gigi December 16, 2010, 4:39 am

    I am not on your side this time. Life is too complicated. Holiday season could be dangerous season for those people who just started their healthy living journey. At this wonderful time of year, people tend to over-indulge themselves by having binge eating, and usually end up gaining a few pounds. However, most of people are not capable of getting rid of a few pounds by the end of January.Because of this, people may feel blow-it or beaten, it is much easier to go back to their old habits than to keep on the healthy journey. Sometimes, a kind reminder at the beginning of the season could save some from falling off wagon. From this perspective, these emails have positive impact. It is kind of like driving, if people nicely inform a new driver of icy road ahead, tell him/her be careful and ask them do some necessary preparation, that sounds very helpful. I am not against guilt feeling about eating unhealthy foods. Slightly guilt feeling could help people build up their new healthy eating habit . Once healthy eating become their ingrained habit, and they are confident about how to get back on track when they derail, they may reach no   guilt-driven living.         

    • Caitlin December 16, 2010, 9:23 am

      That’s true! I’ve actually spoken to a lot of people who find a small level of guilt to be very motivating 🙂 Whatever works for you, right?

  • Ashley December 16, 2010, 8:27 am

    i think i have to digress a bit on your point about healthy eating over the holidays. i think you kind of missed the point that these emails and articles and tips are not actually directed toward you. obesity is an epidemic, and is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality in this country, and it is a result of many complex factors. there are people that need to lose 40, 50, 100, hundreds of pounds, not due to guilt, but for their health. people who don’t have the kind of nutritional knowledge and healthy habits and self esteem that you do. and while i’m not sure they are especially effective, and i don’t condone guilt-driven dieting either, there are many people who don’t just gain 5 pounds over the holidays, or they might gain the 5lbs that cause them to progress into type 2 diabetes. and those are the people that do need constant reminders, and clever tricks to help them learn how to eat healthy and be active on a consistent basis, including the holidays. i love that you encourage this behavior in a positive way with HTP and operation beautiful, etc., but i think you have to look beyond your own experience when you are making a judgment on something like this, that is not intended for people who already know how to eat healthfully and have the discipline to run marathons, etc.

    i didn’t mean for this rant to sound harsh, but i work in public health, so i am very critical about the way information is communicated to the population regarding health. just wanted to chime in!

    • Caitlin December 16, 2010, 9:25 am

      It’s not harsh to disagree 🙂 I don’t mind!

      While there may be people who go completely off the deep end, the average American only gains 1 pound during the holidays (there’s a link to this stat somewhere in the comments section; it’s from NPR). I agree that people in general need to learn overall healthy habits, I just wish it wasn’t framed in a short-term holiday fix, ya know? Make it about being healthy for life.

      • marie December 16, 2010, 10:47 am

        I agree with Ashley — what’s wrong with not wanting to gain weight during the holidays? It’s relevant. I guess I just don’t feel like there is some sinister plot going on to make people feel guilty; I think the messages we’re getting are for the most part well-meaning, if somewhat abrupt and unpolished. You take what you can and disregard the rest.

        Moreover – and this is where everyone will probably REALLY jump all over me – I don’t think a little bit of guilt is necessarily always a bad thing — often it’s just common sense/instinct telling you that you need to make some changes.

        And, in the same way that you say in your disclaimer that you strive to be considerate but can’t be held responsible for the actions of others, I think if these messages cause you to have negative thoughts or they aren’t a good fit for you personally, you don’t have to read them. It it doesn’t mean they affect everyone the exact same way.

        • Caitlin December 16, 2010, 10:49 am

          no one is going to jump all over you marie 🙂 people can disagree!

          i think the thought that some guilt is a good thing is super interesting! i know a lot of people feel this way. different things work for different people, right?

  • Lacey @ Lake Life December 17, 2010, 8:17 pm

    I actually heard the best tip on the radio the other day, which can be applied to any buffet-style meal. Look at ALL of the options before filling your plate and only choose the stuff you really love.

    • Caitlin December 17, 2010, 8:24 pm

      I agree with this tip 🙂

  • Shayla December 20, 2010, 7:43 pm

    I am so very much with you Caitlin! I haven’t read all the comments because there are so many, but all I know is that those emails make me feel the same way and I reacted the same as you. I ignored them and said to hell with them! So what if I gain a few pounds over the holidays. All this delicious food that I’m surrounded with during Nov. and Dec. is totally worth indulging myself with.

    I’m so happy you posted this because I was having those same thoughts and feelings and it feels so good to hear you feel the same way! Over this past weekend I was even discussing this with my husband. I told him that I’m fine with the fact that I’ve gained 5 pounds these past couple months since Thanksgiving, and all of it was totally worth it b/c it’s all been enjoyed with family and friends and I would never take any of it back. All this actually gets me excited to start the new year on a healthy fresh start and I am not going to have one once of guilt!

    Btw, congrats on your GOTR win! I voted for you everyday! 🙂

    • Caitlin December 20, 2010, 9:22 pm

      And thank you for voting!!!

Healthy Tipping Point