I've been riddled with guilt. I threw out a batch of mom's Christmas cookies today. Her fudge went too soft – as did my wife's cornbread-sausage stuffing, the candied yams, and the bowls of lovingly prepared homemade munchies that have been sitting around my house.
Am I a monster? Perhaps to some traditionalists. Am I being wasteful? In a sense. But this stuff is serving no further purpose. It's time to ditch it before it finds its way onto my physique. Love handles and a "uni-pec" are not part of my plans for spring.
There's no reason to fret over the fun you've had during the holidays. On New Year's Day I had a big traditional pork meal and a nice piece of apple pie – ala mode, no less. I have no issues with that. The whole family had a good time. Yet with all the talk about "planned" versus "unplanned" cheat meals, I think we should start a support group in the wake of the holiday season. Those of us with "food pusher" moms and grandmas could use such a thing, lest guilt drive us to trash our physiques. We'll call it "Apologetics Anonymous" and we'll get over the fact that we've ditched the goodies that they sent home with us.
Let's do a little recap of why you probably keep all that stuff that's already causing your relatives to complain about their newfound 10 pounds.
1. Guilt: Chucking the cute little cookies you baked with your kids or your niece certainly feels like sacrilege.
2. More guilt: The food is still "good," isn't it? Tossing it away feels like wanton wastefulness.
Now let's consider exactly what's in the stuff that you've been so reluctant to discard.
1. The Christmas cookies are refined white flour, sugar and fat. And what about those little colored crystals and multicolored icing? More sugar and fat. Are these a substantial part of anything else you eat?
2. Fudge is, well, a big hunk o' butter with sugar and chocolate mixed in. One piece is fun while visiting grandma, but a tray of the stuff seems enough to induce muffled cries from deep within your chest cavity.
3. The sausage stuffing is a whopping dose of fat – much of it saturated – and still more carbohydrates to create heinous insulin perturbation. Check out the Carbohydrate Roundtable I and II and the Fat Roundtable I and II to get really scared about the indiscriminate tissue building effects of insulin and the synergy that combined fatty acids and sugars provide. Unless you're extremely ectomorphic (thin and angular with a fast metabolism), you probably don't need such an "anabolic sledgehammer."
4. The candied yams are NOT the kind you might prepare as part of your normal diet.
5. Butter (or just as bad, margarine) and brown sugar perpetuate the insulin freak show.
6. Fruit punch, pop, and eggnog just kick up the sugar (and with eggnog, the fat and cholesterol) another three notches. How often do you typically wash down a stick of butter with a pint of sugar water? Or have a nice tall glass of sugar and egg yolks?
7. Pies and candies are more obvious sources of fat and sugar. Are we seeing a theme? Seriously synergistic fat and refined carbohydrate combos that are the bane of the modern world.
8. Even the nuts that usually fill the canisters on my end tables have been covered with holiday butter and sugar glaze. Is there no end to this lipogenic parade?
Are you feeling less attached? You can see that by giving some thought to the holiday leftovers in your cupboards and fridge, you can identify them for what they really are. EVIL.
No, I'm kidding, but the warm and fuzzy decorations, presentation, and preparation that accompany traditional holiday "junk foods" can be deceptive. These foods are simply not part of a T-man's regular diet. Although this is obvious to many readers, we can all use a reminder. Consistency in eating and training are key. Traditional holiday treats tend to build up to fridge-filling proportions; there's no need, however, to also allow them to fill up your love handles.
Without awareness, you could find yourself unconsciously munching handfuls of not-so-harmless leftovers until Valentine's Day. That won't exactly make you look good "nekid." The time to resume (or continue) disciplined eating is now. (The best time is always NOW, by the way – not just as a new year dawns.) After all, the fun of holiday food is largely in sharing it with family and friends. Hopefully you've done that for a couple months. Now that Aunt Martha has flown back to Albuquerque and Uncle Vernon has definitely had his fill, let's move on.
So don't feel bad if you chuck the accumulated confections of the past month or two. I'm already getting over my remorse. Think of all those goodies as you might the Christmas cards adorning your living room. No sense in hanging on unnecessarily. You're not desecrating a tradition and you're probably not wasting food that would warrant you giving it to charity. (If you are, then go give it to a local food bank – but remember that impoverished persons don't need unhealthy fats and sugars much either.)
By ditching the holiday leftovers now, you're just preparing for success regarding improved health and appearance in the coming year. That's what your loved ones really want for you anyway.