How do I indulge in holiday feasts without binging?

Among the best parts of the holiday season has got to be the food — there is eggnog to be glugged, cheeses to be sampled and candy to be devoured. The worst part? The sorrow you feel when you have consumed a lot more than you’d intended.

What can you do to resist eating the whole cookie dish, or reaching for this third helping of stuffing?

First of all, forget any techniques you might have heard about for strengthening your willpower. Dr. Marina Milyavskaya, assistant professor at the department of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, says there is contradicting evidence nowadays about whether it is possible to raise one’s self-control in the first location.

“There is some evidence that indicates you can, but how precisely and what functions? … Researchers are still trying to tease that apart,” she says, describing there has also been lots of controversy recently about the idea that willpower is a finite resource which gets depleted the more you try to hold out.

Sadly, she says, your best option is to avoid placing yourself in situations where your self-control will be analyzed.

“Set up your environment in such a way that you are not confronted with those temptations because at that point [when you strike them] … it is almost like you have lost already,” she says. “So don’t get that huge bag of cookies. Do not leave them out on your counter.”

However, of course, avoiding temptation is easier said than done, especially during holiday parties. So Milyavskaya proposes making a plan for scenarios where you will probably face your kryptonite. As an example, if you have a weakness to your Aunt Joyce’s four-cheese macaroni casserole, plan to have a single serving rather than letting your want be the manual. The more you plan for such situations, the more likely it is going to be habitual, she says.

“What you are really trying to do is build good habits, be pro-active about it, so these type of programs can do that,” she says.

And consider why you are exercising in the first place, she advises. Research consistently shows you are more likely to attain goals which you pursue for “want-to” motives, compared with people you pursue because you “have to.” To put it differently, you stand a better chance of succeeding if the objective is something you appreciate, enjoy or is significant, she says.

It is the difference between stopping yourself from binging as you don’t need to feel too lethargic to choose the family tobogganing then and doing it as you feel you should. If delving into that shortbread buffet truly brings you joy? Well, you might as well discard the guilt and savour it. Willpower be damned.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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