Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Do your holidays revolve around high-fat, bad-for-you-but-tastes-so-good food? Does the mere thought of all the yummy homemade meals and desserts make you gain ten pounds?

Holidays are hard if you’re watching your weight for a number of reasons. The obvious one is that food is more abundant. Every gathering seems to be scheduled around a meal. You have to be at this house for lunch and that place for dinner. And, not only is it meal food that’s in abundance, but snack food also.

Not only is there more food but usually it’s food that you don’t normally get. So, you look at it as a ‘treat’ which makes it easier to justify eating it or eating more of it because you know it will be a whole year before you can have that particular dish again.

Finally, if you’re a stress eater, what is more stressful than holidays? You have financial stress if you have lots of gifts to buy or parties to attend. You have family stress because you have to deal with relatives that are tough enough to take on their own, but put them all together and WHAMO! If ever there were a time to crave comfort food, this is it.

Yes, holidays can be hard on the waistline. But, they don’t have to be. The truth is that you can survive the holidays with your belt on the same notch as before they began. How?

Quit Telling Yourself You Can’t

woman eating chocolate cake

If you repeatedly tell yourself that you can’t make good choices or you can’t pass by the dessert table without grabbing your favorite sweet, then you’re right. You can’t. However, if you tell yourself that you can, then you’ll be right then too.

You can do whatever you tell yourself you can do. Give yourself some credit. You’ve made it through some pretty tough circumstances in life, right? So, why not admit that you’re strong enough to walk past a piece of cheesecake or fudge? You are. You just have to believe it and commit to it.

Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry

How many times have you not eaten all day because you know you’re going to a gathering that is going to have tons of your favorite foods? And, what happens when you get there? You eat everything in sight, right?

While it may seem like you’re better off just eating one huge meal, the truth is that you’re probably consuming more calories than you would if you had eaten sensibly all day and didn’t show up ravenous. And, not only do you eat more, you make unhealthier choices. You’re so hungry that you want food and you want it now so you eat whatever is in front of you.

So, don’t let yourself get too hungry before you go. That means two things. First, make sure you eat during the day. Maybe you want to eat lighter because you know that you’ll consume more calories than normal that night, and that’s okay. But, don’t skip eating altogether.

Second, eat something nutritious right before you leave. Have a cup of broth based soup or grab an apple and a slice of cheese. If you’re not overly hungry when you get there, you’ll be less inclined to scarf down a bunch of hors d’oeuvres that realistically probably don’t taste that good anyway.

Be Selective

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to overeat everything. How many times have you started in line for food, put a little bit of this and a little bit of that on your plate only to have it heaping when you get to something you truly want? Check out the entire food selection before you even enter the food line. By picking what you want ahead of time, you can avoid this old holiday pastime.

It’s foolish to expect yourself to go through the holidays and not allow yourself any treats. Besides, what happens when you tell yourself you can’t have any of Grandma’s homemade apple pie or Aunt Molly’s famous sugar cookies? You eat double, right?

Give yourself some leeway. Allow yourself a couple of treats. Pick foods that you can only get this time of year. It’s easy to walk away from something you know you can have any time, so do it. Go for the foods that are special and eat them with love.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

woman holding a glass of red wine

While it’s okay to have a glass or two of the bubbly, be cautious that you don’t overdo it. It’s hard to watch what and how much you eat when you’re seeing double.

Not only do you tend to make bad food choices when you’re drinking which leads to extra calories, alcohol has calories too. Even a light beer has anywhere from 96-110 calories per 12 ounce serving. Have a few of those and you’re well over your daily calorie limit.

And, if you do decide to imbibe some holiday cheer, try not to do it on an empty stomach. The alcohol reaches your blood faster and hits you harder. So, limit yourself to nonalcoholic beverages before you eat if you want to stay in control of your food choices.

Increase Your Activity Level

Not only can you undo some of the holiday damage by watching what you eat, but you can also increase the amount of exercise you’re getting. If you know you’re going to be consuming some extra calories, then burn some extra calories.

Increase the length of your workouts. Put in more time on your treadmill or elliptical. Take an extra class to counteract your holiday meals. Or, increase your intensity and work out a little harder.

Not only will you burn extra calories, but it’s also likelier that you won’t make bad choices if you keep your workouts up. Why? Because when you work out, you tend to not want to undo all your hard work.

Holidays are only as damaging to your diet as you let them be. Take the control and put it where it belongs, with you. You’ll be happier for it.

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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