A Challenge for the Holidays

Happy Friday friends!

Today is truly a happy Friday indeed… It’s been a long and busy work week, so I’m more than ready for this weekend to be here! Not only that, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner which means I get to see my family soon! Yay!

Speaking of Thanksgiving and the holidays, I’ve been noticing a lot of magazine articles, blog posts, and other internet articles plastered all over the place about “cutting back on sugar” or “not gaining weight through the holidays” or “getting a jumpstart on your New Year’s weight loss resolution”, blah, blah, blah. Good grief, enough is enough!


All of these messages being thrown at us are just adding to the constant pressure to be thin, eat a certain way, you name it. It really just comes down to balance and moderation. I know that’s no news flash to many of you, but I promise a brownie won’t kill you. Even a brownie AND a cookie won’t kill you! Crazy, right?! In fact, I think a brownie AND a cookie in one night can be pretty darn good for the soul every once in awhile. Now I wouldn’t recommend eating a brownie and cookie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… Throwing a few veggies in there might be a good idea, but you get the picture. Winking smile

In the past, I’ve totally been guilty of making a bunch of “rules” for myself around the holidays and restricting myself from various foods. In fact, I wrote about my anxieties surrounding the holidays last year right around this time because of all of the limits I placed on my eating. Boy have things changed! (Thank goodness!)

I’ve noticed that the minute I start telling myself I shouldn’t have something or that certain foods are “off limits” is when I get myself into trouble. If I have one of those “off limit” foods, I start to feel guilty, then I eat more of it because I feel guilty, then I feel even more guilty, and so on and so forth. It’s such a vicious cycle! Fortunately through my experience with HA, I was able to develop a healthier mentality toward food. I’m so excited to approach this year’s holidays with no food restrictions or rules!

All of this being said, I want to make a little challenge for you all through the holiday season…

  • NO rules or restrictions allowed!
  • Enjoy the holidays and all that it entails! Treats included!
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Please understand that I’m not saying it’s okay to go eat a dozen cookies or have dessert for every meal of the day. You know I’m all about my fruits and veggies, but I also believe a treat here and there is good for the soul and totally necessary!

Enjoy your Friday! And have a cookie while you’re at it! Winking smile


  • Do you experience food anxiety around the holidays?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday treats?
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  1. says

    I totally agree! You’ve gotta live a bit, but all in a healthy balance like you said. I love, love Christmas cake (with all the marzipan and icing) and the big boxes of chocolates…and gingerbread!! There’s no point restricting things because you’ll drive yourself mad.

  2. Catherine says

    Love this! Lately I’d noticed myself eating poorly in general, and I just wasn’t feeling my best. So, with yesterday marking 40 days until Christmas, I set some positive “rules” for myself, focusing on the positive things I want to do for my body! For example, my goal is to consume a combined 200 servings of fruits and veggies (5 a day!), and get 20 total hours of physical activity. This way I am taking care of myself without restricting or depriving myself :)

  3. says

    I don’t experience food anxiety and I eat what I want (in moderation… usually) but I do tend to step it up at the gym around the holidays… that’s also because I have more time off so more time = more gym time :)

  4. says

    Love this! I totally agree with you. The holidays are a time to enjoy being with family – not stress out about food. Plus I think eating cookies is a necessary part of the holidays! 😉

    My favourite holiday treats are my Nana’s shortbread recipe, pumpkin pie, and gingersnaps!

  5. says

    Love this! I feel like there’s so much pressure now around the holidays to not gain weight or so much fear of gaining weight and let’s be real…we are being surrounded by sweets and cookies for months. Treats are everywhere and we are bound to indulge and that is totally fine! I 100% agree with you! The moment this food becomes “bad” or “off limits” for us we seem to want it even more!

  6. Becky Przy says

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! I used to skip many holiday’s and family gatherings due to food anxiety. However over the past year things have improved greatly. Life it too short to stress about food…its amazing I used to let things like food ruin the holidays. I know a cookie or two isn’t going to hurt. It is all about moderation.

  7. says

    Great post. Totally agree with you. I used to have anxiety around the holidays and holiday not just this time of year, but since I adapted the eat everything in moderation I have not had an issues with the holiday time. It is so sad that the holidays bring so many people anxiety, it should be “the most wonderful time of the year”.

    I have many favorite treats, but we make this delicious white chocolate candy mix every year and that id definitely on the top of the list.

  8. Daybelis says

    I love this post Ashley as always!! I hate how the media seems to bash people for indulging in extra treats around the holidays. I think holidays are meant to be spent feeling happy with our families, enjoying all of our favorite foods together without feeling any guilt. During my anorexia in the past, I definitely had anxiety around the holidays. While my family sat together in the dinner table and enjoyed all the delicious food my mom made, I stayed locked up in my room eating jello and drinking dark coffee. It was the darkest times for me, and I thank God for helping me get better. I have many favorite treats, but I have to say I am sooo excited to eat peach cobbler this year:)

  9. says

    I couldn’t agree more! Last night in spin class our instructor was telling us, “I told myself if I eat really healthy then I can allow myself to have a small piece of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.” I couldn’t help but think, on Thanksgiving, it’s okay to have a full piece of pumpkin pie, and enjoy it!

  10. says

    Great message! I still struggle with this throughout the year, not just around the holidays. I either end up restricting too much, or I let myself go completely and indulge too much. Lately it’s been the latter, and I’m trying to get back on track. Striking a balance can be tough; I’m glad you found one!

    • Ashley says

      Finding that balance isn’t always easy so don’t beat yourself up too hard. I still struggle with finding it at times… It’s a process! 😉

  11. says

    Totally agree with this post! I was the same way in the past. I would tell myself “only eat this if you do this” or “only have 1 cookie, that’s all you can afford today”. Eventually I’d get fed up with my “rules” and would want to eat ALL the cookies. It was no way to live. And really, what’s the point in worrying about how many treats you’re eating or how many calories are in that piece of pie? Because you’re trying to be healthy? Well, call me crazy but I don’t think stressing out over eating a couple cookies is healthy.

    The holidays are supposed to be about spending time with loved ones. Listening to music, watching favorite movies, decorating, shopping, giving presents….why does the food have to be the primary focus? Now that I don’t think about food all the time, it has much less control over me.

  12. says

    Good for you! I used to but this year no way will I let it all get it to me. I think enjoying it all in moderation and in balance is the way to go for sure.
    I love gingerbread cookies!

  13. says

    I agree completely! I have already had my Thanksgiving with my family and when I got back a friend asked me if I ‘splurged’ at all. I said no because I am not on a diet. I ate pie and ice cream and lots of other things I wouldn’t normally eat, but I also ate lots of fruits and veggies and kept active. After all, what’s the point of being healthy but not happy? Healthy eating should be a joy not a burden with a mile long list of rules!
    Preach it!

  14. says

    I have definitely made food rules in the past! Joining the blogging community and being around positive ladies like you have really made my outlook on indulging change! U actually find I treat myself more now, but actually have less anxiety about it than I used to… Crazy right! This holiday season I really want to focus on the meaning of the holidays and family I am with more than even the yummy food.. 😉

  15. says

    Yes, Amen to everything you said! :) I def. don’t do “diets” – I’m all about everything in moderation and balance! And yes, that means it’s ok to enjoy desserts here and there with family, for the holidays! :-) I’m more a savory girl myself, so I’m looking forward to a nice helping of roasted turkey and cranberry sauce. Mmmm! :-)

  16. says

    Amen sister! That’s that the holidays are about – enjoying time with your family and taking part in traditions. A lot of these traditions include food as well. It’s good for the soul. Enjoy the food and move on. Moderation is the key to a happy and healthy life.

  17. says

    Moderation, moderation, moderation!!! I don’t know why that is such a hard concept for so many people to grasp. You are right though, it is perfectly okay to indulge from time to time but you have to make sure you are getting the healthy stuff too.

    I know in the past, I have been guilty of restricting myself from certain foods and it has always led to full on binging. I can assure you that a binge is far more calories than that cookie or piece of pie would have been.

  18. says

    aww great post Ashley! The media does put a lot of pressure on us women to watch what we eat. I’ve fallen into the restrictions but it really is all about moderation. I don’t usually stress over the holidays because honestly I just take it as a normal day lol Funny thing is me and my sister both feel we don’t eat enough on holidays just because our family seems to get all the food first haha

  19. says

    I heard last night that a lot of the holiday “weight gain” is from alcohol consumption! All of the get-togethers and parties, etc… provide lots more opportunities to drink extra calories. So I think I’m just going to be more mindful of THAT this holiday season :)

  20. says

    I completely agree with your post! Society’s outlook on appearance can truly influence how we approach the holidays, and it can hinder our enjoyment with family and friends. I love this challenge!! I am a total chocolate lover and like a variety of treats! My mom and I have a Christmas baking day every year that we make all kinds of treats. This is just a time of year that everyone should enjoy and be thankful for :)

  21. says

    You’re totally right – and thank you for posting something like this! I’m guilty of having a bit of food anxiety still. It’s all a work in progress and I’m working towards breaking out of that mentality. I’ll get there :) That’s why it’s always great to see posts like this to remind you…enjoy the holidays! Everyone can without worry – it’s all about balance & moderation, and who can’t handle that, right?!

      • ErikaMC says

        OREO BALLS – Addictive!!
        1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
        1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
        1 (24 ounce) package almond bark

        Blend Oreos and cream cheese together.
        Roll into bite-sizeish balls.
        Chill for an hour.
        Melt 3/4 package of almond bark.
        Dip Oreo ball in the melted almond bark.
        Place on wax paper to harden. (15ish minutes)

  22. Lolita says

    I don’t think all those types of tips are necessarily restrictive. In fact, I feel like it can help us stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean: eat whatever you wish through the holiday season and then buckle down once the new year rolls around. Am I the only one who feels as though some people may benefit from these tips? As in those who develop the OPPOSITE of “food anxiety” and not pay attention to their health? Clearly America as a whole doesn’t have a problem of trying to be “too healthy” and “too restrictive”!

    • Ashley says

      I never said they were ALL restrictive… I said they added to the pressures that our society puts on us to be thin. I also never said eat whatever you wish around the holidays and then get back to it once the new year comes, because I don’t agree with that mindset at all. I do agree that there are plenty of Americans that struggle on the opposite end of the spectrum, but regardless, there needs to be a healthy balance. The balance and moderation key was what I was trying to emphasize here no matter what end of the spectrum you struggle with.

  23. Sharon says

    Amen to that! I will take you up on that challenge – happily. I had about a year in therapy working on body image/weight obsession. I feel great these days – and it’s easier to recognize what big business “female beauty and weight loss” are here in the US. It takes an awareness to catch the myriad of advertisements aimed at keeping women on that unhealthy treadmill (and spending lots of money on unhealthy products as well)!
    So glad you are feeling happy in your own skin this holiday season. Congratulations!

  24. says

    YES! I am totally in. (Also guilty of stressing out about it too) but not this year. I won’t let it happen. I plan on being active (just like I would any other ole’ week) and making healthy choices when I can but allowing myself some treats. Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, and life’s too short to be worrying about the calories in pumpkin pie, etc.

    Thanks for this post, I needed it. :)

  25. says

    LOVE THIS!!!! You and I were in VERY different places this time last year and like you, I’m so very happy and thankful to have this new mindset through our experiences with HA and am SO ready to go into this holiday season guilt-free and plan on enjoying this holiday season for what it is :) xoxo

  26. says

    Great post, Ashley! I’m getting so, SO sick of constantly coming across blogs/magazines that are talking about ‘how to survive the holidays’. I actually think that it’s that kind of mentality that gets people in trouble in the first place… they put so much pressure on themselves and label so many foods as being off limits, that they end up not being able to think of anything else and food becomes their only focus. Great challenge, and I’ll gladly take you up on it 😀

  27. Nicole says

    Love this!!! I agree with you 100% on the limitations and then just wanting to eat more and more because of the guilt i feel!

  28. says

    Yep I know where you’re coming from; I’ve had a fair few ruined holidays through the years with the anorexia and bulimia, now thanks go I can enjoy good food, sweet and savoury and not feel guilty of anxious about it. I love mince pies at Christmas, do you have them there? Sweet dried fruit in a sort of syrup in pastry, or Christmas pudding, I’m also one of the few in Ireland who loves a good pumpkin pie!

  29. Naomi says

    Thank you for this post! I have definitely struggled with holiday-related food anxiety in the past, almost to the point where I dreaded Thanksgiving day because of all the tempting “bad foods.” This year some things have changed and I think I have a much better mentality going into it. I want to fully enjoy the holidays and time with family and friends without stressing about what I did or did not eat. And I can’t wait to enjoy the cookies too! :)

  30. says

    love this post! I’m so sick of hearing about “tricks to avoid the dessert table!” and “eat this so you won’t feel guilty about eating that!” UGH. We don’t need to feel guilty every time we have a dessert! Thanks for reminding everyone that : )

  31. says

    Great post! Thank you for being so positive! You’re so right about “off limits” food and feeling guilty. I used to have A LOT of food anxieties but now, I try every day to be more confident with myself and more “friendly” with food. I eat when I am hungry and if I still can wear my jeans, if I can run 10km and if I have red week every month, well, that’s ok.

    Isn’it crazy to think that we girls feel guilty when we… eat? We’re human, we need to eat a little of everything. I really enjoy magazines like Shape ou Women’s Health but I’m exhausted with articles about what we should be – why don’t they talk about what we are already – great women! =D

    Anyway, I wish the best for you, your husband and for your little baby. I don’t even know you but I’m so happy for your little family. Keep going like that : your blog is like brownies and cookies, it’s good for the soul!

  32. says

    I totally agree to this. Once we place the “I can’t” idea in our mind and then break that…we feel terrible!! It’s not right to beat ourselves up…we’re all awesome 😉 Including you for this post!!

  33. says

    I just blogged about this the other day. I hate how the holidays are changed into being all about “bad” foods and how to avoid them. A little pumpkin pie never hurt anyone! 😉 If anything, this outlook and negative publicity is only causing more problems for younger girls, who start to feel guilty about enjoying their holidays. I truly think that it leads to self-confidence problems and disordered eating habits. It’s sad. I could go on for days about this, but I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  34. says

    This is SO good. Nothing is harder than recovering from disordered eating habits during the holidays. I am so sick of “stay away from sugar”, “how to lose weight during the holidays”, “prevent holiday binges” headlines, commercials and articles shouting out at me! Thanks for this post!

  35. says

    Oh girl, I am SO on board with this! I’ve already caught myself with some dangerous thought-patterns now that candy and dessert season is coming around, but luckily my mindset on those types of anxieties have changed over time as well. You go girl 😉

  36. says

    Great points! It’s actual brain chemistry & our subconscious that gets all screwy when we tell ourselves we can’t have something. It just makes us want to have it more.

    For me, the holidays are going to be about family, fun, Christ, and enjoying special treats here and there. After 8+ years of holiday anxiety, I am so excited that this year (and last) are/were without all the guilt. Great post reminder to those who have/are struggling/struggled!

  37. says

    I love this! This is one challenge I will be doing. I’m so tired of reading the magazines and seeing tv saying to watch the holidays. I’m actually going to enjoy them this year and not worry about it. I am avoiding herring all negative thought at all cost. Great challenge.

  38. Alison says

    While I completely agree that it’s good to relax over the holidays and not obsess over food, I find it works best for me if I choose one or two things to indulge in. If I have too much sugar it actually ruins my holiday experience and I am not able to enjoy conversation with family & friends. The last 2 years I have practiced this and I tell myself “it’s not all about food” before I get to someone’s house, “it’s about the people” and that really shifts my focus. Sure I indulge in homemade goodies and/or ice cream that I don’t eat often. I find it makes the holidays more enjoyable when I save special desserts for holidays!

    Also for me I find when I eat sugar I will just keep wanting it for the next month..too many years I just kept going on these sugar binges and ended up gaining weight over the holidays & my mood was affected. By the end of December I was depressed & not feeling well and it hindered me from enjoying people. Just my take on it, but I totally get what you are saying. Especially for people who could gain a couple pounds it’s really not the end of the world to enjoy some UN-healthified dessert :D.

    • Ashley says

      Oh I totally agree… Who feels good when they have a sugar overload?! I also agree that holidays shouldn’t be all about the food, so it helps to shift our mindset. I wasn’t at all trying to say we should go on sugar overload over the holidays… In fact, I was saying quite the opposite when I said moderation and balance are KEY. That means eat your veggies and try your best to be wise in your food choices, but don’t be afraid to have a treat every once in awhile too.

  39. says

    I think for me, I usually end up indulging a little too much around the holidays, and then I just feel crummy. So I need to find more of a balance and make sure I still eat plenty of good, healthy foods in addition to my treats! 😉

  40. says

    I am in! This is the first holiday season Ed is not invited to in 12 years! No restriction, no guilt. Yes self love, yes enjoying family and friends, yes holiday favorites!

  41. says

    All of this food is making my mouth water… and it’s 5:30 in the morning! It all looks DELICIOUS and I want every single thing in those pictures. I completely agree with you- we need to banish the food guilt once and for all! Such a great challenge :)

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