Surviving Feasting Season
From Halloween through Valentine's Day, temptations abound.
3 Keys to Survival
To make the feasting season a healthier one, experts say, it's important to
do three things: Practice awareness, manage your stress and emotions, and plan
1. Practice Awareness
- Be conscious of what you eat and how much, says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS,RD,
BC-ADM, CDE, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes
Association. Allow yourself some special treats on the holidays but have
moderate servings. When there's a lot of food available, try an appetizer-sized
helping of each dish instead of dishing up a full serving.
- "'Tis the season to be realistic," says Schmid, noting this is not
the best time for weight loss. She recommends trying to maintain weight instead
of lose it.
- Be sure to keep it all in perspective, the experts say. "Even though
it's the holiday season, it doesn't mean for the next three months, you can do
whatever it is you want," says Thayer. "Allow [some treats] for the
special days, but then get back into your healthy routine the next
- Always look for opportunities to move, says Bryant. For example, take a
brisk walk whenever you get a few minutes; stand up and move around while
you're on the phone call; and walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing
him or her.
2. Manage Stress and Emotions
- One way to keep stress at a minimum is to lower your expectations about
holidays. Ask for help to lighten your holiday schedule. Host a potluck holiday
meal instead of cooking dinner. Or serve it buffet style instead of having a
- Learn to say "no," in a courteous manner, to activities and food
that aren't in your best interest. "People may grow to respect it, and may
even emulate it," Clemens says.
- If you're sad about a loss, turn to people for comfort instead of food.
"Invite a new member to your holiday table," says Schmid. "Maybe
it's not the same without a loved one, but think of new traditions."
- At social events, don't fill silence with food. "Many people will eat
and drink any beverage because they don't know what to say or how to act,"
says Clemens. Instead, he recommends making an effort to really get to know
people, beyond superficial small talk: "When we do that, we actually have
the tendency to eat less," he says.
- Another way to deal with emotions is to make sure exercise remains a
priority in your life. Exercise can be a great stress reliever.
3. Plan in Advance
- Eat a little before you go to a holiday gathering; hunger can undo the best
- Also, avoid sources of temptation whenever you can, says Thayer. After
visiting a buffet, leave the room that's filled with food. If there are sweets
in the office break room, don't go there. If you're given unhealthy food as a
gift, bring it to the office to share.
- If you're traveling for the holidays, pick up some healthy, portable snacks
at the grocery store before you leave so you're less likely to be tempted by
- Think about what really matters during this busy time of year, and plan
accordingly. "Figure out what you absolutely have to do, because there
always are some obligations," says Laubgross. Then let go of the rest.
- Also, schedule a brisk walk or hike after a holiday party or meal.
"Five minutes of exercise is better than 20 minutes of nothing," says