You managed to survive Thanksgiving, but felt ‘guilty’. Now you’re in the midst of the next phase of food fests — that is, office parties, family gatherings, and cookie exchanges. If this sounds like your life, here are some tips to help control your eating and some humane ways to stay on track through the holiday feasting season.

1. DON’T beat yourself up for “being bad”. “”

  • Avoid dwelling on having gone back for seconds (or thirds) and/or indulging in Aunt Clara’s irresistible tray of homemade cookies. 
  • Beating yourself up because you “went off your diet” will only bring on negative feelings of failure, guilt, and frustration which are triggers for emotional eating.

2.  DON’T starve yourself to compensate for the excesses or to make up for “being bad”. 

  • Studies show that rigid dietary restraint for the purpose of weight control, that is, consciously and severely restricting calories to lose weight, can ramp up your desire to eat and ignite the cycle of binging all over again.
  • Extreme caloric restriction and crash dieting diminish muscle mass. Since your heart is a muscle, you can compromise heart function. 

3.  DON’T vow to “go on a diet” and here’s why…

  • A “diet” vs. a lifetime eating plan can make you fat. A diet can be counterproductive. 
  • Diets are often associated with the Three D’s: Deprivation, Defeat, and Depression. These emotions can trigger a cycle of compulsive overeating, obsessions, and emotional eating binges.
  • Most diets focus on weight (that is, chasing that elusive number on the scale) and not on how you feel.
  • Diets are things you’re driven to get on, but can’t wait to get off. Your eating plan needs to be something you can follow and enjoy for a lifetime.
  • Routine dieters usually start diets on Mondays or at the beginning of a new year. Consequently, they eat uncontrolled portions of their favorite “fattening foods” vowing that they’ll never eat them again. 
  • The “now or never” mindset often results in gaining more weight before the weight loss journey begins.

4.  DON’T punish yourself with a workout. 

  • Workouts are meant to reinforce positive feelings, i.e., increased energy and greater psychological well-being, not negative ones.
  • Also, don’t negotiate calories with exercise. 

5.  DON’T dwell on past lapses. 

  • Stop recollecting what you ate with regret and guilt. Move on. Learn from your behavioral drift. Otherwise, don’t look back unless you plan on going that way.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. 

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

6.  DO eat mindfully the next time you eat.

Stay in the present. Eating mindfully means you:

  • Stop eating when distracted by the TV, computer, phone, etc.
  • Chew more and savor each bite.
  • Eat with chopsticks or smaller utensils to slow yourself down. 
  • Notice the different colors, textures, and aromas of the food on your plate.
  • Eat only when you’re physically hungry.
  • Take sips of water between bites.
  • Stop eating when you’re comfortably full. Learn to differentiate between feelings of being hungry, over-hungry, comfortably full, and over-full.

Karen’s Fit Tip: At the end of each day, ask yourself what you did to get you closer to your goal and acknowledge that achievement — no matter how small. These are the kinds of thoughts that will propel you forward and sustain your motivation.

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