Thursday, December 18, 2008


The holiday season is here and for those who overindulge, the guilt trips are sure to follow. But it doesn't have to be that way. With the right strategy, you most certainly can have your cake and eat it, too.
First, remember that much of it is in your head. Rather than think of the holiday season as being five or six weeks long. Instead, focus on specific days, like Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. If you already have it in your mind that those are the days when things are going to be off course, it is going to make things a lot easier, splurging on specific days instead of specific weeks.
At the same time, an attitude of deprivation could set you up for food cravings and an unhealthy relationship with food. For example, if you know you like pumpkin pie, why would you ever tell yourself you're not going to have any?
Convincing yourself that you won't make a single "bad" choice during the holidays is self-sabotaging. It's very easy to call a food a bad choice when you don't have any food in front of you. But when you're there, and you see other people eating it and they're savoring it and telling you how good it is, it gets very hard.
Go ahead and have that pumpkin pie, but go back to your regular eating patterns the next day. Having the attitude where you say to yourself, “Well I have already eaten two pieces of pumpkin pie, guess I will just go ahead and eat two more” can be problematic…remember…DAYS not weeks!
Another trap "over-indulgers" fall into is the emotional. Be aware of why you are eating something. Be aware of your mind state, and think as you're eating. Ask yourself, “Am I eating this because I'm enjoying it, or am I eating it because I want to yell at my sister who gets on my nerves?'" If you know you tend to eat or drink due to boredom or stress, try stationing yourself somewhere other than beside the bar or the food table. Get what you want, and then take your plate or glass and go to another part of the room.
Instead of trying to "save up" your calories during the day by avoiding food before an event, have a small satisfying snack, one with some fiber and protein, before going out. Some suggestions include nuts, cereal or oatmeal. f you're not starving when you arrive, you'll have better control when you do hit the food table. Besides, it's never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach.
Alcohol can be a major source of empty calories during the holidays, particularly if drinking also leads you to overeat. The drinks themselves are generally not filling, and can have more calories than one might expect - a six-ounce glass of white wine has 120 calories, a bottle of beer has 150 calories, and cocktails can have anywhere from 125 calories in a Bloody Mary to 475 calories in a Rum Eggnog. Alternate drinks with water or seltzer to cut down on your intake.
If you're hosting a holiday event, try to be realistic about how much food you really need for the number of guests you have. If you do have snacks still around at the end of the party, try sending some home with your guests, particularly if you know the foods are problematic for you. And remember that there will inevitably be some treats left for tomorrow, which means you don't have to eat them all at once.
Most of all, it's important not to get too caught up in the details. If your diet is good on the whole, a few treats - whether during the holidays or the rest of the year - are okay, and may even help you stay on track and keep a healthy relationship with food. Instead of DIET, "LIVIT"-focus on eating within an hour after waking and every 4 hours throughout the day, eat a high fiber carbohydrate (e.g., apple,whole wheat crackers, sprouted grain bread) and a low fat protein (e.g., mozzarella cheese, almonds, edamame (soybeans), all-natural peanut butter, tuna) every eating time to keep yourself satisfied and energized throughout the day.

The main key to stay lean during the holidays with enjoyment: Have the primary holiday focus be: spending time with your friends and family and having fun (including moving-e.g., dancing, going on walks)! When you're at the holiday meals, ask yourself what is the priority food that I want to have, have it with some protein the size of your palm and some vegetables, savor your food by eating slowly and walk away from the table before your tummy hurts! Enjoy LIVITING! Have a great vacation!