The holiday parties are upon us, resplendent with plates of baked brie, glasses of champagne, and chocolate covered everything. And while all that deliciousness is a joy to behold, it can be hard to figure out a way to enjoy it without going overboard and/or feeling guilty. But it can be done! It may sound like an oxymoron, but there is a healthy way to indulge.
Allow Yourself to Enjoy
The first step toward healthy indulging is to acknowledge that part of the joy of life is eating and drinking delicious things, especially in the context of a celebration. So allow yourself the chance to enjoy whatever decadent thing you look forward to at a party.
Know When to Stop
On that same note, don't let a little indulgence become a binge. We all know that very human feeling of, well, I've messed up by eating that caramel popcorn just now so the rest of the night/week/month is already shot- might as well eat till I make myself sick. Don't do that. On the celebratory night in question, choose what you want to enjoy without feeling guilty, because guilt leads to going overboard. Enjoy your indulgent thing, and then go back to your normal healthy routine that very next morning - or even that night! Just because you eat gingerbread does not mean you can't also eat crudité.
Go For the Real Thing
Have you ever tried to replace your favorite type of chocolate with a date bar? Date bars have their own time and place - they are so good at the 3pm Office Hangry Hour- but they're never going to taste like fancy chocolate, because the only thing that tastes as good as the real thing is the real thing. That's ok, because by definition, indulgences only happen occasionally. So when you decide to go for it, really go for it- eat the full fat ice cream, the sugar cookie, or the potato chips- and enjoy every bite.
Focus on the Awesomeness
You've made the choice to eat something indulgent- so are you savoring it? You should be. By focusing on each bite of your indulgence that you take, really letting yourself appreciate the flavors, you're maximizing your enjoyment. Studies show that by mindfully eating, not only will you appreciate each bite more but you will also likely feel satisfied sooner.
Have a Reason to Celebrate
Indulgences are meant to be special. While it's important to allow yourself to indulge, make sure this doesn't become something you're doing every day. Holidays are great because they're a specific marker of time- so, for instance, every New Year's Eve I allow myself to have these insanely good mini cannolis that have become a tradition, even though most nights I try to avoid both dairy and dessert. Luckily, every night isn't New Year's Eve so I get to really enjoy this indulgence.