Surviving the holidays with your waistline intact Part 1 – it’s all part of the plan

It’s starts with Thanksgiving and rolls all the way through to New Years. Yep, we are right about to go into FULL HOLIDAY MODE. Office parties, dinners, gatherings, family get-togethers and a seemingly endless supplies of food around the home and the office.

It can start to feel so overwhelming and out of control that we just give up and give in

And then we get into that cycle of eating more at home and gatherings and we get the “oh f*ck it, I’ll fix this after the holidays” attitude. We also may worry about food before going events which can cause feelings of stress which we end up buffering with MORE alcohol and more food. In the end, we feel so guilty, helpless and ashamed if we overeat that we stress ourselves more and then (you guessed it) eat and drink to deal with our feelings.

But…it’s not as bad as you think it is

First, let me assure you that these worries and fears are somewhat overblown for most of us. The New England Journal of Medicine says that the average weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a mere one pound. But, this may be little comfort for those of us who feel out of control or anxious come holiday time. So here’s what to do…

Step 1: Get some control by making a plan

First get super clear about what you want. Do you want to lose weight, stay the same or maybe even gain a pound or two over the holidays? Decide ahead of time, create a plan and then stick to your plan. 24 hours before each party or social gathering decide ahead of time what you will be eating and drinking and how much, write it down and stick to it.

The advantages of making  plan (and writing it down)

1. When you make a plan, you avoid drama. The constant back and forth drama of (“should I have the cake?/shouldn’t have the cake,” “should I have the wine or not?,”) may lead to anxiety which leads to overeating and overdrinking.

2. When you stick to a plan you build integrity within yourself. When you make a plan and stick to it you build trust with yourself, you show yourself that you have integrity. Creating trust in ourselves is such an important whether our goal is to lose weight, get a degree, save for a house or some other life goal.

3. If you write a plan down you are much more likely to stick to it.

What should I eat/avoid with my plan?

I’m not going to advise that you eat or drink one thing or another. I suggest that you make a plan and stick to it. Experiment. See what works. If you find that you aren’t happy with how you look and feel from the experiment, try something different the next time. One caveat – alcohol tends to lower inhibitions causing many of us to overeat and drink so I would suggest that you limit your alcohol consumption.

Next week I will discuss dealing with holiday food and drink pushers.

Step 2: Out of sight out of mind

If your house is at all like mine over the holidays all kinds of cookies and candy seem to magically materialize in the kitchen. Brain Wansink director of the Cornell Food and Brand lab ran a study on food left on countertops. His study found that women who kept cereals out on their counters were on average 20 pounds heavier than their neighbors who didn’t and women who left soft drinks out on counters weighed 20-26 pounds greater than those who kept these drinks off of their counters. My suggestion is to get that stuff out of your house or at least off of your countertops. Many diet coaches suggest that it’s ok to have that stuff around because if you have the “right” mindset you will avoid it. I say HELL NO…get it OUT. Sugar is so addictive to the brain, it might be hard to keep saying “no” over and over again.

Step 3: Accept that you might make mistakes

If planning for your diet success is a new skill for you, it takes effort in the beginning and you might make mistakes. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, just move on. If you overeat at one meal, just get right back on your planned program for the next.

Next week:  How to manage your diet at parties

Holiday parties are their own weird animal. I’ll talk about those next week in PART 2.