Are you ready to party? The next month will be filled with fun and food, plus a few diet hurdles. Revel without worry with these simple strategies.
Your fear: “I’m doomed to gain weight.”
Panic backfires on your backside. “If you convince yourself you’re going to pack on pounds, you’ll give up and binge or stress-eat,” says Heather K. Jones, R.D., coauthor of “What’s Your Diet Type?” (Hatherleigh Press). Besides, the average American gains only 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine finds. Creating a plan of action will ease anxiety. Establish an easy rule to keep from going overboard, such as “I’ll have a 150-calorie treat a day” or “I’ll add 10 minutes to every workout,” says Judith Beck, Ph.D., of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in Philadelphia.
Your fear: “I overeat at parties.”
Celebratory spreads make it easy to stuff yourself. But obsessing over every bite will ruin your night. “Ask yourself, How do I want to feel tomorrow? Bloated and disappointed or proud and healthy?” Beck says. Strap your watch on the wrong wrist as a visual reminder of your goal; you’ll automatically eat less.
Your fear: “I can’t resist pumpkin lattes.”
Give yourself permission to relish the special foods you have only during the holidays — your mom’s pecan pie, Grandma’s candied yams or even Starbucks’s seasonal treats, in moderation. Substitute these dishes for your usual indulgences such as chips, ice cream and pizza. “Just don’t let a 300-calorie slip turn into a 3,000-calorie blowout,” Beck warns. “Once you’ve had that slice of cake, get back to eating healthfully.”
Your fear: “I’ll eat leftovers for days.”
It’s undeniable: Reheated turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce is even more delectable on day 2. Combine that with a race to finish the food before it spoils and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The solution? Refrigerate enough of your leftovers for day-after sandwiches, then send guests home with doggie bags and put the remainder in the freezer, so you won’t be tempted to pile up a plate every time you open the fridge.
Your fear: “I can’t say no to Aunt Trudy.”
’Tis the season for food pushers! If you’re polite, the host will quickly forget your dessert snub, Jones says. To take a pass, say, “This looks so good, but I’m stuffed. Can I try just a bite?” Jones suggests. Or make like a broken record: However many times your relative pleads or cajoles, reply with “No, thank you.” Repeat as needed. “When she sees you’re sticking to your guns, she’ll abandon the effort,” Beck says.
Your fear: “I’ve got to indulge now!”
Vowing to diet come January 1? Knowing there’s a restrictive eating plan on the horizon encourages you to binge, Jones says. “You’ll go crazy with fatty foods because you anticipate giving them up.” A smarter approach: Aim for balance now and look forward to 2010 as a fresh start and the beginning of a peaceful time when you can map out healthful meals. You’ll be less tempted today, and — if you’ve been mindful — you won’t have to dig yourself out of a two-month glut. Holiday eating as one less worry? That’s reason to celebrate!