I don’t know what it is—except it’s “the holidays.” Everything changes this time of year. First, the days are short and that doesn’t agree with me. Do I have seasonal affective disorder or SAD? I probably do, evidenced by the fact that I’m counting and recounting the days until Dec. 21 when things “turn around” again and days start getting l-o-n-g-e-r.
We hear and think about holiday eating and the commotion around this is deservedly real. I found myself at Trader Joe’s last week, leafing through the store’s printed Fearless Flyer and picking out food I would NEVER otherwise eat. I thought, “Aw, it’s only once a year.”
Examples: Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips—“Thanksgiving dinner in a chip” and I am guilty. I threw all caution to the wind on Thanksgiving Day and ate a big handful of these BEFORE I sat down to consume turkey, stuffing and another stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet and sour Brussels sprouts, green beans and dessert. Thanks also, Trader Joe’s, for Chocolate Pecan Pudding Pie and Candy Cane Joe-Joes.
I felt totally “carbed out” and wondered: “Why did I eat all that?” Answer: “Because it’s Thanksgiving and you’re (sort of) supposed to.” What a lame excuse!
How I prevent holiday weight gain
It’s now three weeks after Thanksgiving, but I’m still being tempted to eat things that are usually on my “do not touch” list—including those darn potato chips. I work out six days a week, pretty hard, and admittedly I can eat pretty much whatever I want. But I’m always counting calories and carbs silently anyway. Maybe the holidays prompt me to “test the waters” just a bit more, as I catapult toward reckless eating before self-correcting.
I do know that “this too shall pass” and that I’ll be back on the normal track soon enough: no harm, no foul. The danger lies in getting too comfortable doing something I know isn’t good for me, my waistline or my health. Dipping my toe in the water? It feels like a guilty pleasure, my moment in the over-the-top caloric sun. But my goal, like yours, is to prevent holiday weight gain.
I can write and you can read tips about how to avoid a diet disaster during the holidays. I’ll spare us both by saying only this: “Listen to your body.” It always tells you—and me—that we’ve “had enough.” I also never say the word, “diet,” because eating is about every day and a lifetime plan.
Mine has worked for me because of physical activity, and because I really like healthy food: salads and vegetables and—ok, I confess to this daily indulgence—Trader Joe’s Light Vanilla Ice Cream. I have some every day in the afternoon, and thank my workout.
Just try to balance
I also know that if I don’t gain a pound, then I don’t have to lose it, which is always harder. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Americans gain an average of 1.3 pounds between Christmas and New Year’s.
Previous research has shown that the body tries to maintain weight within a typical “set” range.” That means going whole hog for a few days probably isn’t going to pack on plenty of pounds. Think “stay the course” and “balance” to prevent holiday weight gain.
Oh, by the way: I do not buy everything at TJs. I also visit my “regular” store and my discount produce shop. There’s just something about TJs and the holidaze, isn’t there? Make yours happy, healthy and all that you deserve and want. Send me your favorite holiday dessert recipe, ok? (Just kidding!)