Your Health: Holiday Binging

When the holidays approach, the focus starts shifting to two things: gifts and food. And when it comes to food, well, let’s just say we won’t exactly be lacking. In addition to the feasts on the holidays themselves, we’re bombarded with treats leading up to them: pies and cookies and all sorts of sweet and succulent temptations. It’s far too easy to go overboard. How do we stay on track with our health goals?

I am of the mindset that you shouldn’t deprive yourself. If you truly want something, forcing yourself not to have it often has the opposite effect of the desired: you want it even more, and eventually go on a binge, resulting in more consumed calories than if you had simply had a small portion of the item you desired in the first place. That bein said, going crazy and eating everything that looks or sounds good is not the right course of action, either. You need to evaluate what you want most, and focus on portion control: a single cookie instead of a plateful, a small slice of pie or cake, a lone pastry. Satisfy the craving, and move on.

Despite the plethora of treats, meals around the holidays often also have assorted not-as-bad-for-you options. Thanksgiving’s main attraction is turkey, and if you stick with white meat, it’s very low in fat. You can also opt to load up your plate with vegetables (whole, not candied or casseroled!) and perhaps a small portion of a whole grain or complex carbohydrate to round out the meal. Avoid filling up with breads and sweetened sides, which are filled with empty calories.

Another method I’ve heard is to eat before you go to holiday events. Fill up with a salad or other healthy option before you go to that party or meal, and you won’t be as tempted to grab everything you see — you’ll already be pretty full, so you’ll only have a small portion of whatever looks best.

The most important thing is to keep your eye on the prize. Remember why you’re trying to lose that weight or get healthy. Is having another cookie worth faltering in that goal? Take action to remind yourself every time you go to reach for something. Keep a note or picture in your pocket, so you can pull it out periodically as a reminder. Or if there’s someone with you who knows about that goals, have that person be your conscience — and tape the back of your hand every time you try to grab something you shouldn’t. Stay focused on your ultimate goal, and you can more than survive — you’ll succeed!

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