It’s smack dab in the middle of Hanukkah and almost two weeks shy of Christmas.

At this point, you likely fall into one of two camps: in non-stop feast mode and (probably) lethargic, or madly Googling “How not to gain weight over the holidays”.

This article suggests a middle path. One where you are in control of how you choose to eat this month. One where you don’t need to assign blame or shame to eating that third latke. Like I said in the title, just eat the damn cookie.

The real secret to surviving the holidays with your weight relatively intact is to stop allowing this battle between indulgence and deprivation to play out in your head. In my own life, I have been through many iterations of healthy eating idealism and rule following. There was the fat-free phase – thankfully short-lived. The calorie counting years continued for longer than I like to admit. And for me, the years where I gained the most holiday weight directly correlated to the years where I strategized and ‘armed’ myself to resist the temptations of the holidays. Because of course, I inevitably failed. And instead of just enjoying myself, I always went overboard.

The greatest coup in my own healthy eating journey is when I stopped labelling any food off limits. I have never looked back.

I had to go through a big phase of eating everything in sight. Tubs of ice cream. Bags of potato chips. I would indulge so much that I felt like garbage. And then I was able to let it go and hone in on what I truly craved. And how I truly wanted to eat. What I discovered is that I actually LOVE eating healthfully.

Now don’t misunderstand me…this won’t be a diatribe on how ‘all foods fit’ into a healthy diet or that there are no good or bad foods. Double cheeseburgers and giant slabs of cheesecake are pretty bad foods. It’s just that if you let that notion get to you, it’ll drive you further into their gooey arms.

Right now, there are literally zero holiday treats in my house. Because I am not currently hosting a party and it is not an actual holiday. This is the secret sauce: why would you load your home with treats that you will eat simply because they exist? However, if I want a cookie, I’ll go and make (or seek out) a cookie. I will eat exactly what I want at my holiday party this weekend.

And because I have released the power that indulgences had over me, I’ve become more choosy. For example, I am super picky about my treats. If a dish doesn’t taste absolutely amazing, I would truly rather have a nice glass of wine or some perfectly ripe fruit.

I have also been known to eat half a box of Beta 5 Chocolates in one go….so if you need a holiday gift for me, now you know.

So, how do you work this own voodoo in your life? Abandon the rules this holiday season. Don’t gorge all day because you ‘ruined’ your plan at the holiday lunch. Boldly follow a slab of cheesecake with a salad so you have energy to party again tomorrow.

If you actually gain a bit of weight, no problem. You’re a grown up. It will likely only be a couple of pounds and you’ll be so sick of rich foods by New Year’s Day anyways that you will welcome a flood of veggies into your life…and I actually have a bunch of seriously awesome motivation coming your way this January to help you with that.

So, my friends. Enjoy the season. Embrace the feast. But don’t do it blindly. Eat what you love. Take care of your body – and your soul – and make the most of this special time.