Holiday Eating Survival Guide

by A Diet Community

Holidays are the best of times when it comes to seeing family and creating memories, but they can bring about a whole slew of problems that have nothing to do with crazy in-laws or busy parties 200

For someone who is watching their weight, any time of year that focuses primarily on high-fat high sugar foods is enough to give the calmest person in the world a panic attack.

If you’re the average person, you likely spend the last 30-45 days of the year surrounded in temptation.

  • There are office potlucks complete with everything from little sausages in barbeque sauce to your coworker’s homemade sugar cookies.
  • And, there are family gatherings that present a full buffet of grandma’s homemade mac and cheese and Aunt Mildred’s famous pumpkin roll.

Even if you’re strong enough to stay away from the food for the first or second party, by the fourth or fifth, you’ve thrown up the white flag and surrendered.

After all, willpower only lasts so long before the food takes control of the situation and starts calling the shots, leaving you defenseless against its will.


You Can Break The Cycle

Even if that’s been your pattern for ten, twenty or fifty years, you can break the holiday weight struggle cycle.

You can survive eating this time of year with your pride, and your belt buckle, intact. The key is knowing what to do, and what not to do, to get you through this turbulent, calorie abundant time.

In the next few pages, you’ll learn some tips and trips to help you navigate through the holidays unscathed and set yourself up for success.

You’ll find out what’s worked for others in your situation and how to incorporate healthy behaviors into your life without feeling like you’re giving up all the fun that holiday eating has to offer.

Yes, you can enjoy food at this special time of year without worrying about whether or not you’re going to fit in your pants by the New Year.

Ready to learn how? Great! Let’s begin!


Be Realistic

Have you ever entered a holiday season saying, “This year, I’m going to lose weight over the holidays”?

While it’s great to set high goals, when you’re in the midst of the most food oriented time of the year, you may be setting yourself up for failure if you strive too high.

It’s tough to drop a pound or two during normal circumstances, but when cookies and fudge are everywhere you look, it’s almost impossible!

Instead of setting lofty goals of losing this year, try to focus on maintaining your weight.

You’re already stressed enough with gift shopping and family gatherings to plan, why add to it by making yourself feel like you have to skip all the joys of holiday eating too?

If you concentrate on not gaining weight and not losing it either, you’ll relieve some of the pressure and it won’t be such a big deal if you have a cookie here or a piece of cheesecake there.

You’ll be able to enjoy yourself a little bit without beating yourself up which is what the holidays are about, right?


Give Yourself Permission to Celebrate

If you walk into this time of year telling yourself not to eat any of the yummy foods that are available, what happens?

That’s all you think about and dream about.

You wake up in the middle of the night screaming because you just ate your way through a dream buffet full of everything you told yourself you couldn’t have.

When you choose deprivation as a tool to lose weight, it will bite you – every time.

You’ll start out strong, ready to defy any morsel that tempts your taste buds, but after enough times of telling yourself no, you’ll likely give in. And, watch out when you do because you won’t stop.

Action To Take

The best thing to do is give yourself the right to eat some of the foods you’ve grown to love and cherish over the holidays. They key to doing it without gaining weight is to be selective about which ones are important enough to spend your calories on.

  • If Aunt Janice brings apple tart to every gathering, then bypass it this time. You can catch it at the next major holiday.
  • However, if cousin Mabel only makes her famous three layer fudge at Christmas, then give yourself permission to have a piece.

By giving yourself permission to indulge, you end the cycle of restricting which leads to binging.

Why throw out all the progress you’ve made this far? Cut yourself a little slack and it will pay off.


Remember: You’re in Control

No matter what happens, you always have to remember that you control your actions.

You may say you’re defenseless over homemade cookies and desserts, but you know deep down that it’s just an excuse.

You’re NOT defenseless, you just say you are so you can eat them and feel better about it because it wasn’t your fault.

How you talk to yourself when you’re faced with foods that make you want to eat all day long is very important.

If you tell yourself that you can’t walk away from them, then you won’t be able to. You’ll act as if they have this spell over you and eat every last bit of them.

However, if you come at them from a position of strength, one that says, “I will prevail,” then you’ll keep control the whole season long.

Why? Because you’ve told yourself you will.

Action to Take

Next time you come face to face with a food that would normally tempt you, put it in its place.

  • Be stern with it, like you would a child
  • Tell it that you love it, but you love yourself more
  • Then walk away and pat yourself on the back because you took the responsible adult approach


Keep the Focus on the Positives 

One way to set yourself up for failure when it comes to holiday eating is to keep your focus on all that you’re losing by watching your calorie intake.

The more you dread the process and aren’t happy with what you’re giving up, the sooner you’ll drop healthy eating altogether and give in to temptation.

When you’re trying to eat healthy, it isn’t about what you’re losing; it’s about what you’re working to gain.

  • Do you want to make it easier to get on the floor and play with your kids?
  • Would you like to possibly get off the blood pressure and cholesterol meds?
  • How about losing the sleep apnea machine?
  • How about the many other things you will gain by becoming more healthy?

Action to Take

If you can just concentrate on all the good that is coming your way by making healthy choices, they become something you look forward to, not something you dread.

  • Isn’t it nice when you can walk away from a meal and not feel bad because you’re stuffed to the gill?
  • How fantastic is it when you can sleep good at night because you’re not suffering from heart burn from all the high-fat food?

It’s all about perception.

If you perceive that what you’re doing is negative, it will be.

But, if you look at it like it is, a positive move in the direction in which you want to go, then that too is what it will be.


Don’t Skip Meals

One of the first things we often want to do during holiday times is skip meals because we either overdid it at the previous one or know we’re going to eat too much it at the next.

You may think you’re saving yourself calories by taking this approach, but the truth is that you’re doing yourself more harm than good.

What happens when your body goes long periods without food? Your energy crashes, you get lethargic and, if you get hungry enough, you’ll eat anything that is within reach.

Isn’t that defeating the purpose? You’re trying to get healthy here, not make yourself miserable.

Action to Take

One of the best things you can do, especially when you’re surrounded by food all the time, is to never let yourself get too hungry.

Try to eat something light every 3-4 hours. This will keep your blood sugar stable so you don’t get those hard-to-beat cravings that threaten even the best of intentions.

As an added benefit, stable blood sugar helps keep your mood stable and energy high.

The holidays can be hard enough to get through, why add a sour attitude and low energy to the mix if you don’t have to?


Eat Something With Your Sweets

Have you ever noticed that once you start eating something sweet, you can’t stop?

That’s because your body processes sugar very quickly. It causes your blood sugar to spike, which is when you get that happy, giddy feeling. But, shortly thereafter, it crashes.

The result? Your body wants to feel good again, so it wants sugar to get that same effect it just had.

Thus, the cycle of cravings begins.

Action to Take

If you’re going to eat something sugary, don’t do it on an empty stomach. Pair eating it with some protein so that your blood sugar doesn’t have such a drastic rise and fall.

Yes, you’ll have a few extra calories over eating it alone, but it will end up far less than if you spend the rest of the day satisfying your sweet-tooth cravings.


Take Time to De-Stress

This is especially important if you’re an emotional eater.

If stress sends you to the cupboard in search of food, the holidays are a living nightmare. By the time you deal with family, finances and added obligations, it’s no wonder you want to soothe yourself and ease some of the tension.

Action to Take

The best thing you can do for yourself is make a conscious effort to not let the stress build to uncontrollable levels. You should always do things that help you ease your anxiety on a regular basis, but it’s extra important this time of year.

  • Go for a walk
  • Take a long hot bath
  • Play a board game with the kids
  • Snuggle with your honey on the couch

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you enjoy it and it gives your mind a breather from everything that’s going on.


Call in Reinforcement

If you’re going into battle, do you walk in by yourself and then call for backup when it looks like the other side has the upper hand?

No, you go in with an army so that the odds are stacked in your favor, right?

Same thing with watching what you eat.

Don’t create a support system after you need it. Have it in place before you actually have to use it.

Different people need different levels of support to be successful. Some need someone to talk to almost daily for encouragement and inspiration, while others just need a gentle nudge when the going gets tough.

Action to Take

The first thing you have to do is decide what you need. What would be most beneficial to you this holiday season? Do you want a friend to be available if you need to chat, or would it help to join an online forum that sends you motivational emails every day to help you work toward your goal?

There’s no right answer to this question. It’s a matter of personal preference. But, the key is figuring it out now, before it becomes an issue and you’re left standing there, defenseless and alone.


Surviving Your Environment

So far, almost every tip has covered setting yourself up with a winning mindset. While that is 90% of the battle, you can’t ignore the other 10% – your environment.

There are things you can physically do to make holiday eating less of a struggle. After all, the more you set yourself up for success, the more likely you’ll achieve it.

So, here are some tips to incorporate into your holiday survival plan:

  • If you have a party to attend, eat something light before you go, like a broth based soup of salad. If you aren’t that hungry when you get there, it will be easier to say no to the snack trays.
  • To avoid mindless eating, put a certain number of bangle bracelets on your left wrist. Every time you take something to munch on, slide one of the bangles to your right wrist. When all the bangles are moved, you know you’ve had enough.
  • Forego the candy dish on your desk with red and green M&M’s and replace it with a basket of fresh fruit. Sure, it’s not the same thing, but when you feel like munching on something sweet and crunchy, an apple can do the same job.
  • Focus on family and friends, not the food. Make it a goal to talk to everyone around you and you’ll pay less attention to the food.
  • Don’t hover around the food table at gatherings. Station yourself in a whole other room if possible. If not, at least stand so that your back is to the food table so you’re not in a stare down with your favorite treats.
  • Spend more time exercising. There’s two ways to affect your weight – food and exercise. If you know you’re going to be eating more than normal, up the amount of time you spend working your body.


You Can Do This

Regardless of how past holidays have worked out, you can make healthy choices at this time of year if you put your mind to it.

Holidays aren’t just about food.

They’re about sharing good times with the ones you love and embracing the spirit of giving.

You can do that and still engage in positive behaviors.


  • You hold the control
  • You are in charge.
  • And, you will feel so much better when you take care of yourself

So, make yourself a priority so that you’ll have many more holidays in the future.

You can do this!

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