Once the Rockefeller Center tree is lit - the holiday partying frenzy begins. Sure we just had Halloween and Thanksgiving, but now holiday parties and family parties begin in earnest. That means yule logs, potato latkes, boxed chocolates, candy canes and the many side dishes that permeate these last weeks of the year. In NY, the street smells of cooking shwarma and hot pretzels and coated nuts smell even more delicious in the crisp cold air. How is a person supposed to survive the holidays without packing on some pounds??
I always tell people that if you can simply maintain your weight during the holidays - forget losing weight - you have achieved a huge dietary milestone. The only way to accomplish that is with pre-planning. You need to have strategies on hand to cope with temptation, especially if some of these holiday treats are trigger foods. Sometimes you can't have just one, and if you have serious food issues, that one serving can set you off on a 3 week binge experience that, in this case, lasts till after the first of the New Year. If you simply struggle with portion control, then tracking what you eat can help a lot. Visualizing what might be at a buffet or meal ahead of time, so you can decide what will be your treat choices, can go a long way to help avoid over-eating. For that matter a food journal can be an invaluable way to track how well you are coping with temptation during the holidays. Your entries may inspire more mindful eating at the next social event.
Many successful dieters maintain their weight loss by eating a set meal plan most days of the week, and allowing themselves some food splurges on the weekend. If you take that approach to holiday eating, then you could have a treat at two, at 2 different parties while basically eating mindfully the rest of the week. Yes, that may mean exercising some control if you have 4 or 5 parties in a week, but the payoff is that you've created boundaries while still having allowed yourself to enjoy certain special holiday offerings. That's how most people who don't have food issues handle the holidays. They set limits and they push away their plate when they are full. You may have to work hard at developing this new habit, but it is crucial to avoiding significant holiday weight gain.
One last effort can be "let's make a deal." If you do overeat, then commit to a vigorous exercise effort the next day, coupled with a set number of calories to be eaten as four 400 calorie meals. That is enough food (1600 calories) if you include lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, a serving of fat free dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables, to keep you satiated while allowing your body to "need the extra calories" eaten on the prior day. It is all about checks and balances during the holiday season.
Published On: December 10, 2009