Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist
Turkey, roast beef, ham, mashed potatoes, Egg Nog, Christmas cookies & fudge…just thinking about the holiday meals makes our mouths water. But, all that eating adds up. Did you know the average holiday meal is approximately 3,000 calories? In fact, research suggests the holiday season is the biggest calorie feast of the year! Will you survive the holidays without sabotaging your weight loss efforts, or will the feast leave you feeling overly full?
The holiday season is a time of year in which overeating is socially acceptable and sometimes even expected. You may be thinking to yourself, “Can I really do that much damage?” Unfortunately, the answer is YES. It can lead to a spiraling effect of uncontrollable eating from now until the New Year.
Most of you have worked so hard to lose weight and/or maintain it; so don’t let this holiday season weigh you down. It’s possible to celebrate this year without packing on the pounds! Read below to learn strategies for preventing holiday weight gain!
1. Develop a Positive Holiday “Eating Attitude”
Your eating attitude can have a tremendous effect on your success in managing your weight during the holidays. In fact, the foundation of your success will be your belief that you can do what is necessary to reach your goals during the holiday season. What type of attitude do you have this time of year? Do you have a positive holiday “eating attitude?” Or, do you have a sabotaging eating attitude?
• Do you expect to gain weight during the holiday season?
• Do you excuse or ignore overeating during this time of year because “It is the holidays?”
• Do you expect to be overwhelmed and stressed with responsibilities?
• Do you plan to put yourself and your needs last on the list?
• Do you plan to put your weight loss goals on hold until January 1st and “start over”?
• Do you expect to eat “perfectly” and then after one bite off of your plan you think, “I blew it, so might as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the day (week, month, etc.)”?
Developing a positive eating attitude is the first thing you will need to successfully achieve your weight loss/management goals this holiday season. If you find yourself identifying with attitudes that weaken your ability to sustain a positive focus on weight loss/management this holiday season, the first step you can take is to decide these eating attitudes are sabotaging your efforts and let them go. Choose to develop more positive eating attitudes. Here are some examples of positive holiday “eating attitudes!”
· I expect to maintain (or lose) weight during the holiday season!
· “I will not overindulge just because it’s expected or acceptable. I will focus on friends and family instead of food.”
· I am capable of following my RM3 meal plan this holiday season.
You will know you have developed a more positive eating attitude when you begin to expect success, find the motivation to accomplish your goals, and believe in your ability to beat the bulge this holiday season.
2. Identify Triggers for Overeating and Barriers to Weight Loss
During this time of year, family activities, social functions, and even work related activities often are centered on food. Along with the focus on food, additional pressures can include:
– Internal imposed pressures of wanting to look good and fit into a nice holiday outfit for family functions, pictures and social events.
– Feelings of loneliness as the holidays can bring about feelings of being isolated and apart from others if you live far away from your loved ones.
– Comments from family and friends about physical appearance
– The over abundance of possible binge foods at family gatherings, social functions, and the workplace.
– Stress from interacting with family members. Oftentimes, communication can be dysfunctional or even non-existent.
– Broken routines: Many of our routines are broken during this time of year due to vacations, children off from school, family visiting from out of town, etc. When a routine is broken, it is hard to get back on track.
The list can go on and on. The best think you can do is to reflect on past holiday events. Ask yourself, “What were my most troublesome triggers/barriers to managing my weight? Chances are they will repeat themselves this year. Once you identify your triggers and barriers, you can devise strategies and skills to overcome them.