How to Get Through the Holidays
Tips for surviving the holidays without sacrificing your weight-loss goals.
Besides the red flags, it's important to understand other, more subtle
tricks you use to justify an overindulgence. "We all tell ourselves stories
that are the same, time after time, like 'if I overeat Friday or Saturday, I'll
be extra good Monday morning,'" Bartlett says. "Other familiar half-truths are:
'I've eaten an extra thousand calories so I'll do an extra session at the gym,'
or 'I'll eat what I want tonight and worry about it tomorrow.'"
Still, lapses are inevitable no matter how well prepared you are. And when
you slip, you become vulnerable to a common pitfall — abandoning your entire
plan until after the holidays because you made one mistake. It's far better to
forgive yourself and move on. "Recognize what's going on, stop it and get back
on track quickly," says Bartlett. "I tell people to put things in perspective
and remind them that overeating on one occasion is not what causes weight gain;
it's consistently eating too much."
Taking this into account, the group members did a lot of planning for "the
day after." When someone slipped up at a party, they mapped out what to eat at
their next meal, checking calorie and fat intake. Surprisingly, even when
someone breezed through a party, she often needed a strategy to get through the
next few days.
"It's easy to underestimate how difficult it will be to avoid overeating at
a party, either as a reward or because you've been stimulated and you're
biologically hungry. And psychologically you're tired, so you may not be as
good at recognizing the danger signs," Bartlett maintains.
The holiday season can be stressful. You may be feeling financially pinched
or extra tired from lack of sleep. And extended visits with your family are not
always tension-free. To avoid getting trapped into using eating as an emotional
crutch, devise strategies for basic self-preservation. "Focus on what you
absolutely need so you don't get caught in a whirlwind," suggests Bartlett.
This may mean having time alone, getting enough sleep, having your family help
out with shopping or food preparation, or hiring extra help to clean.