If there is one thing we love about the holidays, it is the food.

If there is one thing we hate about the holidays, it is the potential weight gain. So how concerned should we be and what do we need to know?

Truth is, we do tend to gain weight during the holidays. Now, it’s not typically a lot of weight. More like a pound or two. Yes, the rich foods, less physical activity, stress and disruption in sleep do a number on our physical health and often lead to weight gain. So, before you grab that extra slice of pumpkin pie and pile on the whip cream, considerate the following.

Even though weight gain may be minimal, the extra weight tends to stick around. People just don’t seem to get it off come January. Thus, your mindset becomes important. Avoid the extremes. “I can eat whatever I want and worry about it in January,” or “I can’t eat anything as I need to diet.”

Examine your mindset: 

What is important during this holiday season? Certainly, the food is a part of all the festivities. But typically, it is family and friends along with the purpose of the celebration. Therefore, focus on time together and engaging in activities that are related to the meaning of this time of year- serving others, giving thanks, church activities, etc. And ask yourself, “Apart from food, how do I enjoy myself? How can I stay active and maybe cut out some of the sweets?” If you focus on the people and purpose, your mind will not be constantly thinking of what you can or cannot eat.

Engage in mindful eating:

Years ago, I wrote a book, Press Pause Before You Eat. The focus of that book was to look at your relationship with food and become a mindful eater. Press pause simply means slow down, enjoy the moment, savor each bite and enjoy the food, don’t look at food as the enemy, a battle ground or a source of deprivation. Your relationship with food needs to be positive. All things in moderation can be enjoyed.

Another key to mindful eating is to not eat for emotional reasons. Address your emotions this time of year, don’t medicate them with food. Identify sadness, upset, depression or whatever the feeling is and allow yourself to feel it and work through it without food as a crutch.

Resist and it will persist

This is not the time to look at your favorite treat or dessert and try to resist it. The old saying is, “What you resist, will persist.” Depriving yourself usually ends in wanting something more. Craving will win and you don’t want to feel like you are cheating your diet. Take a bite or two of something decadent. Enjoy it and cut out or cut down on another everyday food. Don’t torture yourself. Take a sip, a few bites, a small portion and enjoy! Plan ahead for parties and food events and cut back in between.

Finally, invoke the notion of choice. Tell yourself, “I choose not to eat that item” versus “I can’t eat that item.” This mindset of choice makes a difference. It puts the power of food back to you. Now, enjoy with mindful eating.


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