Surviving the Holiday Season without Putting on Extra Pounds: Five Tips to Enjoy Holiday Foods While Still Losing Weight

For many of us who struggle with emotional or disordered eating, the holidays feel dangerous. All those tempting, high-calorie foods start showing up at the office, at parties, and even our homes. Most of the year, I commit to keeping foods that give me trouble out of the house, but during the holidays, sometimes they show up regardless. How do you survive the holiday season without putting on the extra pounds. Well, I’ve been doing it for the past twenty years let me tell you how.

Unfortunately, during the holidays, those irresistible treats will show up. A well-meaning guest may bring a few boxes as a hostess gift, or your new neighbors make something special as a kind gesture for all the houses on the block. You take the gifts graciously as a polite gesture, but then find it looming over you. The good news is that these holiday treats and triggers don’t have to sabotage healthy habits. You can even enjoy the special holiday foods that make you feel festive without putting yourself in danger of reverting back to sabotaging your efforts or putting on extra holiday weight. Just follow these five important tips in order to enjoy those holiday foods while still losing weight.

    1. Trust your body to tell you when you are hungry. I always remind my clients that there is nothing more dangerous to your weight loss than hunger. This is especially true when we find ourselves surrounded by foods during the holidays. It may seem counter intuitive, but you need to feed your body enough to keep going, or you will end up hurting yourself in the long run. Your body will go into starvation mode and actually store even more calories. That said, you need to learn to tell the difference between actual hunger and boredom, self-consciousness, or any other emotion. For many of us, food becomes a source of habitual comfort rather than the source of fuel it should be. This holiday season, trust what your body is telling you, and only eat when you are actually hungry.
    2. Be fully present when you eat. Avoid distractions such as watching tv, chatting with friends, or other activities. When you are fully present as you eat, you can stay in tune with what your body is telling you, allowing you to be aware of when you are satisfied and stop. Plus, you can enjoy your food more. If you have a holiday craving for pumpkin pie, you are much more likely to satisfy that craving with a few bites that you savor than with a whole piece that you eat while distractedly sending emails. Finally, it is much easier to make note of how much you are actually eating when you are paying attention. Why do you think movie popcorn disappears so quickly? We are eating it out of habit, and before we know it, it is gone, because our attention is elsewhere.
    3. Eat what your body wants until you are content. Our bodies are better at figuring out what we need and want than we think. By allowing ourselves to have what we really crave, we are much more likely to feel satisfied and content. If you have a huge craving for a pumpkin spice latte, it is much healthier to let yourself have what you want than to have six cups of coffee and a several “healthy” snacks to try and distract yourself. Once you are able to recognize when you are hungry and are fully present while you are eating, you can listen to your body to tell you when you are truly content. Just remember that you are in control. You do not have to finish something just because it is there. When your body has gotten what it needs, feel comfortable putting down the rest and saving it for later.
    4. Eat consciously (This means no “sneaking” or “cheating”)! I find that many of my clients feel so guilty about a small “treat” that they pretend even to themselves that they are not eating that food. They either “sneak” the food when they think no one is looking or call it a “cheat” as if it does not count. This kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ is part of the reason that we internalize hurtful eating habits. There should not be guilt associated with what we eat. When we eat consciously, acknowledging each food as we consume it, we are much more likely to keep ourselves in control. Plus, we will enjoy that food more, allowing us to feel content with a healthy portion.
    5. Enjoy everything you eat. Food isn’t the enemy. When we realize that these holiday foods aren’t put in front of us as an evil temptation, we can not only enjoy what we eat more, but also remove that feeling that we are not good enough when we eat anything that is not a salad. While I think that when we are really trusting and listening to our bodies that we won’t want as much “junk,” there does not have to be a list of “bad foods” on our mind to protect ourselves during the holidays. Enjoy your food, and let go of the guilt. Eating healthy during the holidays shouldn’t deprive you of any of the joy of the season.

This holiday season, shut out the voice telling you that holiday food is the enemy. As the creator of the cutting edge neuroscience Neuro-Associative Programming (NAP), I know that when you use these proven techniques that you are able to reprogram yourself this holiday season to enjoy eating without self-sabotaging. You can enjoy this season and keep losing weight, so long as you keep these tips in mind and trust yourself. You are beautiful, intelligent, and in control. Have a FAB holiday season!