During the holiday season many dedicated dieters or those who follow special diets for diabetes, heart disease or other conditions not only “fall off the wagon” but also leap into the deep end of the pool. Don’t feel guilty. This is a normal reaction to attending large family dinners where everyone makes food loaded with seductive carbohydrates. We also go to multiple parties — sometimes on the same day — where the hosts have hired caterers who specialize in delicious appetizers and desserts that are so good you just stand at the buffet and eat more and more.
Worse, in some cases you are at the home of a sensitive relative who has taken gourmet cooking courses and will be insulted if you don’t have at least seconds of every dish. Your diabetes is not an excuse where they are concerned.
Can you have “your cake and eat it” during this holiday season that now seems to stretch from before Thanksgiving well into the coming year? If you adopt a simple strategy, you can survive the holidays without too much damage.
The first thing you have to admit is that you are not powerless over the mounds of mashed potatoes, hams, turkeys, stuffing, butter coated green beans and apple and pumpkin pies. Next, adopt these few logical steps below and with any luck and preparation you will come out of the holidays as healthy as you went into them — your blood sugars and weight at the same levels three months before.
One: Put Yourself Into Pre-Holiday Training: Think of the holidays as sort of an Olympics (for Eating). The first thing any athlete does is begin training. As a diabetic you are already exercising, eating properly and taking medication and supplements. Adopt a strategy that helps you increase your exercise and lowers your blood sugars even more. Begin this a month ahead of Thanksgiving. When you are shopping park farther away and walk everywhere you can. The more “workouts” you get with proper food and exercise the better shape you will be in.
Two: Holidays are not a license to eat. We all tend to have “slips” when following a weight loss plan — especially as a diabetic whose health depends on keeping nutrition balanced. Do not rationalize as you line up to shovel food on your plate that this is only “for today”. It won’t turn out that way. There will be more parties and unless you adopt the attitude that “today is just like any other day” you will be on the downhill slide.
Three: Use Visualization. Think of how you felt in the past when you did overeat. Remember over eating and the bloated, nauseous feeling that may have led to you getting sick and ending up vomiting and passed out on the couch. Just bring that sensation back and you will already start backing away from the table.
Four: Think Of The Damages: Keep in mind that over eating during the holidays can destroy an entire year of work and you end up possibly gaining 10-15 pound in a few weeks. It is OK to go off your diet a bit but keep the consequences in focus.
Five: Stay Home When You Can: This one is tough but if you can keep the “exposure” down your odds of staying on track increase.
Six: Don’t Go To Parties Hungry: In effect pre-medicate. Have a small salad or something healthy when you go to a party or dinner so you will not be as tempted.
Seven: Avoid the “liquids”. Parties seem to attract bottles of beer and glasses of wine. Remember how many calories these contain and stick to water if you can. The holiday season is about seeing old friends, family and having a good time. While all the food and entertaining is hard to avoid, if you keep these ideas in mind you can still enjoy yourself and not suffer from it. The most important lesson is that if you keep exercising — staying in training — you will have a much easier time continuing your weight loss program after the holidays are passed..
Therese Borchard writes the Beyond Blue blog on Beliefnet.