Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist
The holiday season is filled with triggers and cues to overeat. If you do not deliberately try to respond in a different way than you had previously, you will end up falling pray to these cues, which will once again pack on the pounds. I know that this is NOT what you want to happen. So, instead, this year, let’s try something different. Let’s learn to make healthier choices, stay on track toward our goals, and learn to manage our weight. Below are some strategies to accomplish just this.
1. Visualize Yourself to Success!
Think about what you are going to eat before the big day arrives. What will your plate look like? What will leave you feeling satisfied? Think from the end! Visualize yourself like you have already achieved your goal. Take a few minutes everyday to visualize yourself successfully living your goal. Your future self (come January 1st) will thank you!
2. Bring a Healthy Dish
I would recommend bringing a dish that is meal plan approved. If you’re not preparing the holiday meal yourself, ask your host if it would be all right to bring a dish that meets your dietary needs. Consider bringing a vegetable dish as this is more likely to help you stay on track.
3. Buddy Up
Talk to a fellow dieter before the holidays. Plan to give each other moral support throughout the season. Who can you ask to be your buddy?
4. Ask for Help
If possible, let your close family members, friends and the host know your goals. Most people will be respectful of your needs and not pressure you into eating seconds.
5. Have Doggy Bags Ready
Plan ahead to give everyone leftovers, this way you are not tempted to continue eating well after the meal is done. You can also choose to donate leftovers to a homeless shelter, or even bring leftovers into work the next day. Either way, I recommend getting the food out of your house because, chances are it will continue to call your name until you eat it.
6. Wear Snug Clothing
Choose a snug pair of jeans over comfy sweatpants for your dinner attire. Fitted clothing will help you to eat less and stay mindful of your body image.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
Water helps control your appetite by making you feel fuller faster. If you drink a lot of water, you will be less inclined to overeat.
8. Limit Alcohol
If possible, avoid alcoholic beverages or choose to drink alcohol in moderation. As we all know, alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which makes it that much easier to justify a third helping of marshmallow-encrusted yams.
9. Prepare for the Pushers
Some people show their love through food. Others may feel threatened by your diet and pile food onto your plate because it makes them feel better about themselves. Please remember, what you put in your body is your business. Rehearse politely saying, “no thank you” in your head or out loud. You may even try to look at yourself in the mirror saying “no thank you.” This will help you feel more confident in your ability to say no when the pushers arrive.
10. Stay Active and on Schedule
If you already maintain a fitness schedule, don’t let the holidays derail it. Instead of crashing in front of the TV after dinner, try going for a walk.
11. Start a New Tradition
I always encourage patients to get everyone involved and start a new tradition. Either before or after the meal, go on a family hike, play tennis, or take a nice long walk. However, don’t reward your good workout habits with an extra serving of pie and/or a bottle of Chardonnay. Exercise is not an excuse to indulge.
12. Commit to a Plan
All the above techniques will not work if you choose to read about them now and then forget them. These strategies will only help you if you commit to a specific plan.
You can create a healthy holiday plan very simply. Try writing out a simple plan to stay on track and even lose weight during the holiday season. I hope it works for you!
My Holiday Plan
– Name of event:
– My biggest challenge will be:
– My goal is to:
– I plan to achieve this goal by:
– My Mantra is:
Repeat this plan as many times as you need. Each event will likely require a specific plan. I always say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
Remember losing or maintaining your weight through the holiday season doesn’t have to be a chore. Make good choices, stick to your food plan and keep moving.
The Bottom Line
If you want to get through the holiday season with your weight loss goals unscathed, you will need:
– To plan ahead
– Be consistent with your eating and activity levels,
– Monitor your behavior.
– If you do overindulge, try not to dwell on it or view it as an excuse to continue overeating. Simply get back on track the next minute, and focus your attention on losing those extra pounds.
– Stay focused on your long-term goal, which will bring you that much closer to it, one day at a time.
Happy (and healthy) Holidays!