Stress-Free Holiday Eating

Stress-Free Holiday Eating

by Kim Hardin, RD and Bill Hartman, PT, CSCS, ART

Recently, we overheard two women talking. One remarked that she just loved the holidays. She went on about the food, the winter weather, the gifts . . . you get the picture. Her friend stopped her dead in her tracks by saying, "I hate the holidays. Every year I gain five pounds from eating all the desserts, candy, and starchy side dishes."

We're here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way. You plan for a lot of holiday-related activities - what gifts to buy, which parties to attend, what clothes to wear - so why not plan for your eating and training routine as well? With this simple holiday plan, you can enjoy the foods without the stress.

Step 1: Think ahead

List all the events you'll be attending throughout the holidays. Don't tell yourself that you won't be able to eat or enjoy your favorite foods and drinks at those events.

Step 2: Plan for those events

Continue your healthy training routine. On party days, don't skip meals or starve yourself all day; you'll just overeat later and feel mentally and physically horrible. Don't forget to exercise that day, and remember to keep that training mentality. It can help curb your appetite, burn more calories, and give you more energy to enjoy your evening.

Step 3: If you do overeat, don't punish yourself

You can't get fat by eating a couple of high-calorie meals. Remember, it takes 3,500 calories over and above your daily caloric requirement to gain a pound of fat. One evening of eating an extra 500 calories won't increase your weight. Don't weigh yourself the next day. If you did gain a pound, it's probably from water retention from eating foods higher in salt content.

Step 4: Enjoy yourself!

At the holiday event, eat and drink slowly. Enjoy a glass of wine or hot chocolate but follow it with a big glass of water if you're still thirsty. Enjoy all of those wonderful flavors, but remember, the holiday event is more than just delicious food. It's the wonderful friends and family who make the event fun and memorable, too.

After all the parties, when it's time to make those New Year's resolutions, how about adding this one to the list: Develop a healthy training routine for 2004. When you make it a habit to eat, exercise, and train your way to longevity, a couple of undisciplined days won't affect you at all. You'll breeze through next year's festivities without a second thought.