Battling the Holiday Binge
Dec. 24, 2001 -- You do your best to stay in shape all year
long -- sensible diet, regular trips to the gym, a good mix of cardiovascular
workouts and weight
training, along with regular meditation and calming imagery for stress reduction.
Then come the holidays, and your fitness lifestyle gets
smothered under a torrent of big meals, sinful desserts, and plenty of alcohol.
By January, your body is waving a white flag of surrender.
According to Liz Applegate, PhD, a nationally-recognized expert
on nutrition and performance, and faculty member in the nutrition department at
the University of California, Davis, one of the longest-standing love/hate relationships going is the one between us and our holiday
festivities. After overindulging, we feel bad, almost shameful.
She offers a four-step plan to prepare for holiday bingeing
without checking yourself into a weight-loss boot camp afterwards:
Focus on the positive. Rather than berating yourself for
overindulging on Aunt Bernice's homemade chocolate truffles, enjoy and savor
your food experiences. A better thing to say to yourself is: "Boy, those
truffles were fabulous!" And don't forget the larger experience. Remind
yourself how wonderful it is to see Aunt Bernice, to get together with friends
and family over a big feast. After all, food often brings us together over the
Adopting a kinder attitude toward holiday eating will also help
you recover from overeating. You'll be less likely to punish yourself with
fasting or some other harsh weight-loss scheme.
Set your course. Give yourself at least a few days after all the
holiday gatherings to let your food settle before you assess the damage. You've
hardly gained 100 pounds -- it's more likely just a few, according to studies
assessing average holiday weight
gain. If you feel a bit bloated, it may be due to fluid retention caused by
excess food and salt intake. That's not permanent -- it'll be gone in a day or
Plan on getting back to pre-holiday form over a period of
at least a few weeks. That is, take off a few pounds by using a rational,
step-by-step approach. Setting a course of gradual weight loss is better for
your body and the results will be more lasting.