Dread: To anticipate with alarm, distaste, or reluctance. The holiday season is in full swing, and the word dread is one you may not expect to see in a blog at Christmastime. I never dreaded the holiday season itself, but did dread treading through the minefield of office parties, restaurant buffets, and social situations. Even though I was obese for 10 years, I was always on a diet and constantly worried about my weight. I wasn't a very successful dieter, but I tried constantly. And as a perpetual dieter, this time of year, the thought of holiday food was constantly on my mind. Not only because I really loved sweets, but also because I genuinely worried whether or not I would be able to resist the lure of fudge, cheesecake, and chips with dip.
And guess what? I couldn't. My dread of what seemed inevitable happened, and I descended with millions of others into the food frenzy. I always gained weight over the holidays. Always. People around me seemed to bake compulsively, feel compelled to share it with everyone they knew, and get annoyed if you even tried to refuse. So I gave in. By the end of December, I was eating loads of sweets every single day, merrily drowning any memory of my sensible diet plans in mountains of whipped cream.
The year of my weight-loss journey included Christmas. I had already lost about 100 pounds and felt like I had made some good strides with regards to food relationships. But like other years, I dreaded the food I knew was about the appear on office counters, Sunday school conference tables, and in my mailbox. How would I handle myself differently? I didn't want to dread the holiday solely due to the food, so there were a couple of things I did to help keep myself on the straight and narrow.
Here are 5 tips to keep the dread of holiday food at bay.
- Give yourself permission to make the decisions that are right for you. Sure Aunt Sally really wants you to try her apple pie, but if that isn't something that fits within your eating plan, then politely refuse. Aunt Sally doesn't have to wear your pants, you do!
- Rate your food. Look at the available food and rate it from 1 to 10. If the food isn't a 9 or 10 I don't eat it. Why eat something that I really don't love?
- Have a plan for incoming food presents. If your friends and family love to give you gifts of food, know in advance what you will do with it. Freeze it, send it to the office, or give it away.
- Learn to make healthier alternatives to your favorite recipes. This really helped me when I had to go to events. I learned to make healthier desserts, entrees, and appetizers.
- Take the pressure off yourself. You won't be perfect. No one is. There have been many times throughout the holiday season where I made choices that I immediately regretted. (i.e. the time I ate 6 cookies in rapid succession, followed by a slice of cheesecake) But instead of beating myself up over my choice and eating more, I just shrugged it off, realizing that even though that was way too many calories in sweets, it didn't have to ruin anything.
As you find yourself surrounded by holiday platters, don't dread it. Embrace the challenge, come up with your plan, and enjoy the season with all your heart.