12/23/2009 03:32 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Holidays: The Time to Pig Out and Enjoy Doing So

This may sound contrary to what has been in the news lately regarding obesity and the growing weight problems of America, but let me explain.

We treat every single day as a pig-out day and eat to our hearts' content. We no longer look forward to holiday meals like turkey with all the trimmings or the table laden with numerous goodies. The holiday meal has lost its appeal. We have become accustomed to buying anything we want at any time, dampening the special holiday zest. The problem is not that we pig out during the holidays; the problem is that we are pigging out all the time!

Here we are, with loaded refrigerators and pantries, yet we still complain that there is nothing to eat. It does not matter if there are two kinds of ice cream or an assortment of ready-to-eat meals and desserts at our fingertips, we still desire more. More. More.

Food preparation and obtaining food has become so easy that nothing is extraordinary anymore. Turkey and other fare, which used to be reserved for special occasions, are now present in the grocery store at all times of the year. In my family, we used to relish tamales more than any other meal. In order to prepare the meat for the tamales, however, we had to fatten a pig for many months prior to Thanksgiving or Christmas. When the important day arrived, we butchered the hog (not without some wild escapades if the pig got away) and prepared the meat for cooking. This used to be an all-day event that required many hands to achieve the feat for the feast.

Now, we readily buy the tamales from the store, any time of the year. Tamales are no longer special. We no longer gather at one house and spend time together cooking and socializing, as we used to and as should happen during the holidays. Meals are easy to prepare and easy to devour in minutes rather than in hours. All too soon, the day is over, the TV is turned on, and everyone sits back watching the tube instead of talking and becoming closer as a family. Now, the holiday get-togethers and holiday meals feel routine.

Nevertheless, there are ways to bring back that old-fashioned feeling and at the same time do some good for your community and for yourself:

  1. In every-day life, eat smaller and more reasonable portions. Savor the slight hunger that you feel and think of how great the coming [holiday] feast will be. In December, we are in a prime stretch of three major holidays, and the Super Bowl follows soon after. Enjoy these meals for the splurges that they are, but eat in moderation otherwise.
  2. Make dishes from scratch. Peel those potatoes and mash them by hand instead of buying an instant mix. Do not settle for eating prepared food, and do not get a majority of your food from restaurants. Home-cooked meals are healthier.
  3. If you have extra food in the freezer or the pantry, give it to the hungry. Although you may feel that you have nothing "good to eat," consider that others may have nothing to eat. If you did not have anything good to eat anyway, you will not mind the loss.

In short, save your appetite for those special dates, and you will enjoy pigging out even more, and with half the guilt!

I have always believed that eating in moderation and maintaining an exercise routine is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I am also an advocate of letting loose once and awhile. The only times that we should eat to the point of bursting are on those special holidays when all of your loved ones are gathered around the table. The key to this philosophy, however, is that these holidays should be noted as special days. You will not be eating as if it were a holiday every day of the week!

Oh, and by all means, enjoy an assortment of desserts to complement your holiday meals.