How to NOT gain Weight Through the Holidays

So maybe you are trying to lose weight and you are dreading this time of year because you know it is going to be even harder to shed those unwanted pounds.  The parties, the chocolates, the big family meals that await.  The evenings you opt for shopping rather than exercise and everything else that seems to make this time of year take over your normal existence.  


Don't fret!  There is a way to enjoy the holiday season and still keep your eye on the prize.  Giving you sound advice and debunking common myths, I have put together a list of suggestions to help you make it through this one crazy season of the year.  


MYTH NO. 1:  I have to eat the chocolates/candy I received as a gift…after all it is wrong to waste food, there are starving children in the world!

It's true, there are starving children in the world, but cleaning your plate isn't going to help them any.  Whether or not you throw food in the garbage or down your pie hole won't make a bit of difference in world hunger.  And eating your food rather than throwing it away won't help your wallet, either.  If you saved the leftover food, it would last longer and in the long run would save you money but if you choose to eat food rather than throw it away, you don't save any money by eating it, you just gain weight.  The money was already spent. 


My point is, many people fear "wasting" food.  The only way we waste food is when we buy more than we need, not when we don't finish what we already paid for a few days ago.  If you want to be successful in portion-control, you must accept this fact; it is OK to throw food away.  


So receiving food for a gift doesn't mean you have to eat all of it.  Every year I collect chocolates and candies that I get from Halloween, Xmas, Easter, etc… and it mostly sits in my pantry until I finally decide the candy is so old I should throw it away.    While it is OK to eat some of the goodies you get (choose the best tasting, of course), don't feel obligated to eat it all.  Have a few and throw the rest away.  Really….


SUGGESTION #1:  Don't use the holiday season as an excuse to eat poorly.

Although there are 10 pies to choose from at your family dinner doesn't mean you should have 10 pieces of pie and just because you go to the company party doesn't mean you should eat 8 pieces of the warm rolls sitting on your table.  You can enjoy family dinners, parties and candy gifts, without using the holidays as an excuse to gorge yourself.  This is a perfect example of what years of yo-yo dieting can do to your mental state.  Having the mentality of "deprive and gorge" is not healthy for your mind or your waist.  Allow yourself a piece of chocolate, a small nightly dessert, and other foods you enjoy in moderation throughout your life and you won't feel the urge to gorge at the holidays.  


SUGGESTION #2:  The holiday season is really about giving, not eating.

No matter what holidays, if any, you celebrate, I think the universal concept that is shared among all during this time of year is that it is a time to give.  A time to appreciate your family, friends and co-workers. A time to reflect on all of the good things you have in your life and feel grateful.  A time to feel compassion for those who have less and try to do more for others.  


It is a time to enjoy watching children open gifts and see smiles light up their faces.  A time to enjoy giving special gifts to our significant others that were inspired by our love for them.  A time to think of those less fortunate and donate what we can to charities, whether it be donating toys, coats and other items to needy families or by donating money to organizations that will help make the world a better place.


Although we all look forward to grandma's pies and delicious meals, gourmet appetizers and fine wine, these are only a part of the holiday joy.  It is the ones we love that make the holiday season worth having.


SUGGESTION #3:  Make time to exercise, you will deal with the stress better.

The holiday season can be fun, but stressful on many levels.  We usually feel overwhelmed about shopping, preparing, cooking, etc..


Take a load off and keep it simple.  Keep exercising and maintain your usual schedule.  Allot a certain amount of time for shopping and preparation and try not to go overboard with it.  Most of us go overboard at the holidays and quite frankly we would probably all be happier if we kept it simpler.


MYTH NO. 2:  It's the holiday season so it is OK to slack a bit in my routine.

No it isn't…Christmas is one day..ONE DAY! (And yes, Hanukkah is eight days), but is one day (or eight) really worth making the excuse that you can pig out on food all month and make no time to exercise? 


SUGGESTION #4:  Keep up with your normal routine.

Don't use the holidays as an excuse to not be yourself (wait..I already said this, right??).  Make good choices and maintain your normal routine as much as possible.  Not to say we all can't slack from time to time, but once we start making excuses, we will find more excuses to make.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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