The holiday party season is upon us! Last week I went to my first holiday party, not counting Thanksgiving of course. It got me thinking about what strategies I use to manage my eating during these “potentially” treacherous times.
There are 3 basic strategies.
First of all, you can “save up” calories by not eating all day, knowing there will be lots of goodies. This strategy is similar to the Weight Watchers™ point system, where you save points and use them whenever you want. So you can starve yourself all day and use them all in one sitting if you want.
I think this is a BIG mistake.
If I go to a holiday party starving, I am AT the appetizers almost before I get in the door. Then it just keeps going all night because there is more a feeling of needing to catch up. To me, starving yourself all day is a form of deprivation, which sets you up for binging at night. It is almost like a one-day mini-diet.
The second strategy is just the opposite—do NOT starve yourself all day long, but rather eat moderately so that you don't go to the party totally starved. This is the strategy I recommend most of the time.
If you eat moderately during the day, you will not feel deprived when you get to the party. You will be more able to pick and choose. Even though there will be visual cues to eat, you will be more able to eat mindfully, enjoy the food and focus on TASTING the foods that you really want.
Then you can still have the things you want, and are less likely to overeat.
And I don't mean just having a taste of something, although sometimes that is all that it takes to satisfy.
The secret is trying foods if you really want them, not necessarily finishing them, but really getting a taste so that you don't feel deprived. I will often take a lot of different foods just because they LOOK so good. But I only eat the ones that really TASTE good and that I WANT at the time. I try not to eat foods that I don't really enjoy - just because it is there.
If you eat mindfully and stay conscious, then eating MORE of the same thing doesn't add any more to the experience – it only adds bulk.
The problem with most holiday foods is that they are laden with carbohydrates, which sets you up for continuing the cycle. So make sure you get adequate protein to help control your appetite and get back to eating normally the next day.
If you overeat, relax and learn.
Use this information to make your choices the next time you are in that situation. Don't yell at yourself or use it as an excuse to binge. A few holiday parties can be handled quite nicely if you stay calm.
Remember that there will always be more chances to eat successfully and feel good about it. So don't get too down on yourself if you happen to overeat at 1 event.
Oh, I almost forgot – my third strategy? Skip the party! Some holiday parties have simply outlived their usefulness. You go every year and dread it. You have my permission (not that you need it) to do something kind for yourself and skip it this year.
Use the time to do something that is more relaxing or enjoyable to you.
Here's to happier holiday parties,
Carol Solomon, Ph.D. is a psychologist and personal coach who specializes in helping people who want to lose weight and eliminate food and weight issues.
By going from food obsessive to charge neutral (i.e. Did I eat today?), she became dedicated to making it easy for others to step off the vicious cycle and live free of anxiety about food and weight.
She is the author of "Lose Weight Now Stay Slim Forever," a practical "how-to" manual for learning to lose weight without dieting.
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