Tips to Avoid Holiday Overeating and Weight Gain

Holidays can present opportunities for dieters and others to gain weight, overindulge, and practice unhealthy habits that promote or maintain obesity.

One way to increase the ability to relax and handle stressful situations more effectively involves visualization. For example, one could envision himself or herself politely, but assertively, responding that another slice of cake or glass of wine is not desired when the party hostess asks. Or, an individual could mentally see himself or herself smiling after an annoying coworker’s party joke, and then casually walking away to chat with others instead of displaying his or her usual reaction.  With practice, the individual can increase confidence in handling the situation, which, in turn, promotes more relaxed reactions.

Exert External Control, Whenever Possible Or Appropriate.

External factors include location, people, and anything in the environment or outside the physical body. Food temptations at parties and holiday celebrations can be reduced in any number of ways. For example, if you are going to a pot luck dinner, you might bring along a dish or dessert that you can share with others but also allows you to stay on your special diet. As another example, you could have a good meal before you attend a party and save room for a tasty salad or desired dessert. Then you could spend the remainder of your time staying out of sight and reach of the food and beverage areas while conversing and interacting with people whose company you enjoy.

As yet another example, you might consider changing your schedule, seating, or other external factor if you find yourself tempted in certain situations. You might, for example, chose to sit in another room rather than the employee lounge for coffee break or go for a short walk during that time, instead of sitting in the employee lounge where there will be free pastries available every day between the Christmas and New Year holidays

Have a Motivating, Realistic Plan.

A plan on how to deal with food temptations on the holidays will have the greatest potential for success if it motivates the person creating it and provides realistic expectations. Part of the appeal of going to parties and social gatherings is the food and beverages. Attending a party expecting to be perfect and eat no treats or just a low-calorie or less desirable food may leave an individual feeling restricted or sensing that something is missing. Additionally, if the individual is on a diet to lose weight and has been trying to be perfect in following his or her food plan, any deviation, such as eating a small piece of cake, could be perceived as failure. Due to this failure, no further dieting effects matter so the individual continues to eat, overindulging at the party and perhaps even continuing to binge or overeat for days or weeks later.

Planning for holiday events and related situations will help prevent overindulgence and weight gain. Developing ways to deal with food temptations that allow for pleasure and celebration and include realistic expectations will help ensure good times without contributing to expanded waistlines. 

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