Surviving a Holiday Diet

practical-fitness-10-31-08-logo-copyby Dan Felix, CFT

Holiday dieting. If there ever were contradictory terms, it would be those. How many times have clients come to me in January, full of guilt for celebrating their holiday season with food and friends.

In this article I think we can come up with some dietary tools that allow a person to enjoy the season and still not gain unwanted pounds or inches. You can survive with three dietary tools.

The first change we need to make is to stop feeling guilty. With all the parties and get-togethers that happen from Halloween to New Years’ Day, it is impossible to not eat foods that are normally off-limits. Everyone does it. You cannot expect yourself to be surrounded by food and friends only to try to separate yourself from the celebration. Our first tool is to no longer look at dieting as an all-or-nothing behavior. Start looking at your food consumption from a monthly view instead of a daily view. If you eat less food during this holiday season then you did last holiday season then you are making progress.

Our food consumption changes throughout the year. You cannot realistically eat in November what you ate in July, so simplify your food plan. Just eat less this year than last and do not let yourself get trapped in the stress of guilt every time you are faced with a holiday eating opportunity.

A second tool we can use is water. Our bodies feel full, not so much because of what we eat, but because of the volume. This is why you can feel full after eating a large meal of vegetables only to feel hungry again a couple of hours later. Your body felt full from the volume of food. After your body digested the food, it found there was mostly water in the vegetables and turned on the hunger switch to get more food. When this happens you actually end up eating fewer total calories.

We can use water to our advantage. Eat what you want during those holiday parties, but first eat from the vegetable dish or a healthy salad before eating the pastas, burritos, and other similar dishes. You’ll feel full sooner and on fewer calories. And since the vegetables or salad won’t be the only food you eat, you will not feel hungry later.

Our third tool is usually the hardest for my clients. Enjoy the holiday season. Enjoy the opportunity to be with friends and family. Social relationships are the best tool for you to achieve any weight loss. These are the people that care about you. They are the ones who will encourage you and congratulate you as you achieve your weight and health goals. They are your most important defense against the food mistakes everyone makes. If you enjoy your social relationships then you are less likely to look to food for pleasure and you’ll actually eat less.

Surviving a holiday diet is not impossible. In fact, if you focus on the holiday and the reasons you celebrate it, you’ll actually enjoy the season and that joy will help you.

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