How to Get Through the Holidays
Tips for surviving the holidays without sacrificing your weight-loss goals.
Be Honest continued...
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.
Because you may feel under a lot of stress, it's easy to overeat at home
too. Here, it pays to challenge some of your basic assumptions. For instance,
just because you've always done it, do you have to bake six dozen sugar cookies
this year? If you have them around the house, you'll eat them. Bake fewer or
give some away.
Several group members found themselves in a quandary about what to serve at
their parties, worrying that their guests would only enjoy rich foods and
eggnog. But it's perfectly acceptable to modify recipes, using lower-fat
options, or to offer a variety of choices.
"When I have a party, I can control the kinds of foods offered," says
Barchowsky. "Obviously, I'm not going to invite my friends over and give them
only low-fat, low-calorie foods. I'll serve cookies too." And share the wealth:
Give calorie-laden leftovers to guests as they leave, instead of packing them
into the refrigerator, where they'll be tough to resist.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Every week, try to have as many "normal" days — when you eat healthy foods
and exercise — as possible. While a workout can't compensate for overeating, it
does help stabilize weight and gives you a psychological boost too. Of course,
it's frequently the first thing to be eliminated from a busy schedule. "Write
your exercise time in your weekly planner and consider it as absolute," says
Bartlett, who also suggests tapping into what may be a hidden resource, namely,
If you have a weight problem, family members may not know how to help. It's
up to you to figure out your vulnerabilities and strengths — and communicate