Lose the fat, not the fun this holiday
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:05AM
Special family meals, holiday buffets and free drinks can be open invitations for disaster for the more than 50 percent of Americans who are struggling with their weight and dieting.
Navigating the holidays can be stressful, said Jeffrey Gersten, PsyD, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, Loyola University Health System. “Close family situations, the ready availability of trigger foods, such as cookies, kugels and candies, unhappy memories of past holidays — all add stress to make keeping your waistline in check a challenge.”
Frosted cookies are an important part of enjoying the holidays to Suzy Krueckeberg, 48, who lives in Oak Park.
“I eat my favorite foods but change the portion size,” she said. “At a holiday party, I will scope out the offerings and make my choices. I’ll eat one-half of a frosted cookie and one-third of a dessert slice — enough so that I have a true taste of the foods I like.”
Krueckeberg dropped more than 24 pounds and has lost more than 30 pounds total, despite the challenges of the holiday season.
“I still go to out to dinners and to restaurants and I’ll modify the meal so that I eat an open-face sandwich, or if I really want potato chips I’ll eat half a small bag, and throw the other half away. I am aware of the calories and also of what I really want to eat,” she said. “I do eat more salads and vegetables, but if I want to eat something, I pay attention to those feelings and I eat it, but in a smaller quantity.”
“You can enjoy the holidays without losing control,” Gersten said.
Here are Gersten’s top five tips to keep you from going overboard this holiday season:
• The Holiday Roadmap: Identify your trigger foods, those that you know you will be unable to eat in a moderate portion, and avoid them. Provide yourself healthy options, such as bringing your own low-fat snacks to get-togethers. But don’t starve yourself.
“Your blood sugar level will drop, creating a hunger that is unstoppable, which will lead to overeating usually high-calorie foods,” Gersten said.”
• The Telltale Crumbs: So you polished off the entire carton of French onion dip and the bag of chips, or gobbled the plate of cookies you received as a gift. Take control of the situation immediately.
“Don’t tell yourself that because you’ve overindulged, all bets are off and everything is now fair game,” Gersten said. “Every moment is a chance to begin again. Don’t wait for New Year’s to make resolutions. Make them now – keep them.”
• Give Yourself a Timeout: A walk in the neighborhood to enjoy the decorations, playing a favorite seasonal CD or even just taking a deep breath are all ways to relax and shake off stress.
• Friends, Through Thick and Thin: Talk to a friend, or fellow partygoer, about your desire to eat healthy. Enlist their aid in not encouraging you to “just try this” or guilt you into eating “my famous cake I slaved over for days.”
• Maintain Utter Consciousness: Think about what you eat. “Give yourself the five-minute rule. Stop eating for five minutes to see if you are really hungry or just bored.
Stasia Thompson wrote this article for Loyola Health Care.