Mastering Temptation: Your Path to a Fit Holiday Season

Holiday cookies

It’s that time of year again. We have more social events, pumpkin spice everything, and food gifts are strong. If you’re here there’s a good chance you want to master temptation for a fit holiday season. 

There’s a good chance you’re going to be dining out more often. Traveling for the holidays. And feeling overwhelmed and stressed about how to stay on track with your health, fitness, and diet.

I was having a discussion about this with a client and this is what I said.

  • You can take a break if you want as long as you’re okay with the tradeoffs that come with that decision.
  • You can also keep working on your health, fitness, and diet as long as you’re okay with those tradeoffs.

Pretty much sums up life. A never ending adventure of identifying and accepting tradeoffs.

In situations like these more knowledge isn’t very helpful.

👩🏼‍🍳 Most of us already know what the healthier option is at restaurants. But we have a hard time choosing it.

🍪 We get that eating 1 holiday cookie isn’t going to destroy us but we have a hard time stopping at 1.

🍷 A drink isn’t going to ruin anything. But we have a hard time sticking with 1 in social situations.

People often have a hard time managing temptation due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors.

Temptation usually arises when there is a conflict between immediate gratification and long-term goals or values. There are a few factors at play here:

Evolutionary factors: Human brains have evolved to prioritize immediate rewards over long-term benefits. This is because in our evolutionary history, finding food, shelter, and reproducing were crucial for survival. As a result, we are wired to seek out and respond more strongly to immediate rewards.

Psychological factors: Emotions, such as stress, boredom, or sadness, can weaken our self-control and make us more susceptible to temptation. When people are under emotional distress, they may turn to comfort foods or other instant gratifications to alleviate negative emotions.

Cognitive factors: Cognitive biases, such as discounting the future, make it challenging for people to weigh long-term consequences effectively. This bias often leads to people choosing immediate rewards over delayed, but more substantial, benefits.

Environmental factors: The availability and accessibility of tempting options can greatly impact one’s ability to resist temptation. For example, if unhealthy foods are readily available, it can be more difficult to resist them.

Managing temptation is a skill that can be developed and improved over time. It requires self-awareness, commitment, and the implementation of effective strategies to help align your choices with your long-term goals and values.

How to get better at managing temptations for a fit holiday season. 

If you want to practice managing temptation better, pick 1 to 2 of the following and try them on for 30 days:

Self-awareness: Recognizing when and where temptation is most likely to occur is the first step. Identifying your triggers can help you prepare for challenging situations.

Set clear goals: Establishing clear and specific long-term goals can provide motivation and a reference point to help you resist short-term temptations. When your goals are well-defined, it’s easier to make choices that align with them.

Delay gratification: Practice delaying immediate rewards when possible. Techniques like the “10-minute rule” can help you wait and reconsider before giving in to temptation.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can be instrumental in resisting temptation. Mindfulness meditation can enhance self-control and emotional regulation.

Environmental changes: Modify your environment to make it less tempting. For instance, if you’re trying to eat healthier, remove unhealthy snacks from your home or office.

Social support: Share your goals with friends or family who can offer encouragement and hold you accountable for your choices. Social support can be a powerful motivator.

Reward substitution: Find healthier alternatives that can provide a similar sense of reward or satisfaction. For example, replacing sugary snacks with fruits can help satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your health goals.

Or even have the treat but add something awesome to it (i.e. eat the cookie but some Greek yogurt to as a way to increase the protein content and satiation of the meal).

Seek professional help: If you find it exceptionally challenging to manage certain temptations, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in behavior change.


Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash