29 November 11 Running the Holiday Gauntlet

Here we are again – in the middle of that magical time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day - the holiday gauntlet. It is a time for holiday cheer, festivities, parties, gift giving, and calories. As I recommended in last year's post, consider a sane approach during the holiday gauntlet: aim to maintain weight rather than trying to lose weight. That is, hold steady – this will give you a little more leeway with your calories intake with which to enjoy the season.

You Still Matter More Than Gifts!
Don't get so caught up in the merrymaking and gift giving that you fail to take care of yourself. Your family and friends will not benefit from you forgoing self care simply to insure that they get their favorite sweet or gift. You being alive and healthy enough to enjoy life is what matters most – and your loved ones ability to enjoy your company. Don't lose sight of this very basic fact.

Not Enough Time
Yes, there is enough time to cook healthy meals and exercise even during the holiday gauntlet! You simply have to value those activities enough to schedule it into your day along with the other things that you do. Think of ways to free up time. If you have a family, then what age-appropriate activities can your children and teenagers do to help you get a healthy dinner on the table? How about your spouse – does he/she pitch in enough? Who's doing the dishes? In my house, the person who cooks does not do the clean up. Ask for help! This frees up some of your valuable time for self care behaviors.

Dining Out & Parties
We tend to consume a lot of calories in both eating environments. Choose one or the other, but don't do both for five consecutive weeks. If you typically eat out for lunch, then start bringing in lower caloric foods from home so you can budget for party calories later that evening. Skip parties that you really don't enjoy and use that time for self care.

Keep Tracking
Keep tracking to remain aware of your calories intake relative to your total calories expended so there won't be any unpleasant surprises in the New Year. So what if you made some choices that resulted in a huge calories surplus one day? It is the net calories over time that results in weight loss, gain, or maintenance. A 3500 calories surplus is needed to gain one pound of weight. That means you would have to eat 3500 calories over your weight maintenance calories to gain one pound. Most of us gain weight gradually over time with a creeping calories surplus that occurs for weeks, months, and years.

"All or Nothing" Doesn't Work
Get rid of the "all or nothing" approach to holiday eating. If you persist in this type of thinking, I can pretty much guarantee that you will gain weight over the holidays. You don't need to be perfect – this ultimately results in a pretty dramatic fall from grace during the holidays. And not knowing how bad things are getting is not freedom – it is simply not knowing. Better to track, assess, and make changes without drama. Knowledge is power – use it to make effective dietary and activity changes rather than as a tool for self-loathing.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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Holidays / Parties/Winter Holiday Season

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