Perhaps you think it’s a festive time of year and I get that. There’s the music and the decorations, the parties and the treats. To me though, it seems like a bit of a conspiracy. Even the songs “Feed the World”, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” and for Hanukah “Gather Round the Table and We’ll give you a Treat” all subliminally telling you to do one thing, eat! Then there’s the inflated pound propaganda preparing you for the inevitable five to ten pound weight gain (more on that later).
I loved this graphic from Beth at Weight Maven; I don’t think the terror alert analogy is inappropriate:
Festive Foods are Everywhere
So what’s a well-intentioned healthy person to do short of signing up for a one month retreat?
- Pick an Anchor Behavior. An anchor is something that centers you when things are crazy around you and December is crazy. Pick one behavior: breakfasts on track or gym visits or hydration to stick to for the duration of the season.
- Run on Empty. A study from the UK followed 3 groups during the holiday season. One group did not work out, another worked out before eating anything and the final group workout out after breakfast. The only group to lose weight was the “running on empty group”. If you have a 10-mile run planned or low blood sugar, eat before. Otherwise try running on empty here and there and eating soon after you’re done.
- Use Special Days for Special Days. Even if you don’t gorge, celebration abounds this month. In between the events I suggest pulling back a bit. Try, what I call, a Savory Day where you skip anything sweet for one day. Do this once or twice a week.
- Cook Responsibly. Many sad weight-related tales start with “I baked ________ to bring it __________. You don’t have to bring dessert and if you do it doesn’t have to be handmade.
- Utilize Your Little Helpers. It’s not just about taking things out of your diet. Both green tea and omega 3’s support you and your diet during the holiday season.
- Practice Treat Training. My sister makes trifle every year. It’s beautiful and everyone loves it but it’s just not my thing. On the other hand, eggnog is something I dream about. What are the holiday foods you can’t pass up? Make it a mission to seek out the best version of those one or two foods and call it a day.
- Try Your Holiday Hotline or TIDEI. If you’re on twitter, I’m here for you. When you’re tempted to get carried away simply use the hash tag #TIDEI which stands for tweet it don’t eat it. Use @Foodtrainers and I’ll tweet you off the food ledge.
Finally, if you want to test your knowledge of food-related holiday songs I loved this quiz from slashfood that I failed miserably (didn’t even know how many maids a milking). And that holiday weight gain of five pounds? The good news is the NEJM found it’s only one or two pounds for most people. The bad news? Those one to two pounds stick around long after the holidays.
What are your favorite holiday foods? Do you tend to overdo it this time of year? Favorite holiday song? And what will your anchor behavior be?