Holiday Eating Survival: Part One

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holiday-cookiesThe holidays are upon us! If you celebrate by traveling to be with those you love, using the time to vacation and overindulge, I’ve got the perfect “survival guide” to help you avoid packing on the holiday pounds.

While we all look forward to the many warm feelings, anticipating the variety of experiences a holiday can bring, one of the things no one looks forward to is giving ourselves the “gift” of a few extra pounds. If weight gain, frustration and larger clothes aren’t on your wish list, you’ll be happy to hear there’s a way to enjoy the holiday season – guilt free. It starts with a plan that I call the “Holiday Eating Survival Guide” and here’s how it works.

Your Holiday Eating Survival Guide

PART ONE: The first part of your “Holiday Eating Survival Guide” begins with asking yourself what do holidays, time away and vacations mean to you? If you’re a chronic dieter, time away from home often signifies time off from your healthy eating routine. Unfortunately, this mindset leads to making drastic changes to eating behaviors, so you find yourself either “on or off.” Chronic dieting creates an “all or nothing/good or bad” mentality, leaving holidays a prime opportunity for going overboard on choices, portions and behaviors. 

Even if you’re not a chronic dieter, certain foods signify that the holidays are here and “permission to indulge” is granted. With all of the special foods and sweet treats surrounding you, this mindset is a recipe for weight gain.

Many holiday foods come with memories attached, an emotional tie that easily brings you right back to that comfortable place where you originally feasted on them. So how can you avoid these delicious temptations that lead to overindulging during the holidays? Once again, it’s all part of having a plan.

Fail to Plan and You Plan to Fail

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” That’s certainly the case when it comes to holiday traveling and eating. So, where does the plan begin? You might be surprised to know that it begins before you even leave for your trip – and where it begins is in your closet.

I stumbled on a trick in college that I still use today. Remember the “Freshman 15”? Those additional pounds that crept up on you due to:

  • late night partying
  • lots of unhealthy food
  • drinking
  • a new-found independence

The “Freshman 15” affects many new college students, but what I realized was that what they were wearing seemed to play a huge role in their weight gain. You see, while I was wearing jeans, everyone else was wearing…sweatpants! I seemed to be one of the only freshmen who didn’t gain any weight and I believe it was, in part, due to my clothing choices. If I overindulged, I became uncomfortable much sooner than someone wearing the “expandable” sweatpants did.

Subconsciously, wearing fitted clothes provides a reminder to keep from overindulging. For example, would you overeat the same way if you were in a bathing suit? Probably not. So, make sure to wear something fitted that buttons or zips before you head out.

Another trick that works to survive the holidays is called the “clutch trick.” This has to do with the type of bag or purse you bring with you to a party. (Guys, you can hold your phone or keep a hand in your pocket for the same result.)

The idea is that when women have a bag with a strap, they place it on their shoulder or the back of their chair. Now, you have two hands free to grab loaded drinks and appetizers. However, with a clutch bag, you’ve eliminated one free hand! You can have a drink (have a seltzer that looks like a drink to avoid any hassles from “drink pushers”) or a plate of something healthy. And even if you do choose a few treats – you’ve already slowed yourself down by eliminating a hand to eat with. If you don’t have a clutch bag, no worries, just tuck the strap into any small purse, forcing you to hold it.

No Saving Calories

OK, two tricks in and we still haven’t even left for the party! (Remember, this is only PART ONE of my Holiday Survival Guide.) Now that you’ve got a great start on surviving the holiday feast and party scene, here’s something else to consider before you leave: Don’t “save” up calories in anticipation of consuming special foods that might be part of an upcoming event…it’s never a good idea. In fact, calorie counting isn’t something I recommend anyway.

Stay tuned for more about this and the rest of my Holiday Survival Guide tricks and tips in PART TWO, next week.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023