Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank God I'm Not Dieting

This is absolutely the worst time of year to try to diet. The sights and smells of food are everywhere, and the association of food with good times and family are so deeply entwined during the holidays that start this week and wend through December that it seems if you diet you are eschewing family not fat.

So what is a person to do? After all, studies show that the average American gains 5 pounds between roughly Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Do you give in and decide 5 pounds isn't so bad, I can get rid of that in the new year? Or do you manically cut calories wherever possible in the faint hope that you will be thankful to be "below average" for once in your life?

How about neither of those options?

Look, in the "old days" if I only gained 5 pounds over the holidays I would have been ecstatic! Geez...I was known to gain 20 pounds in a weekend--and it all seemed to land on my hips, overnight, just by looking at food much less eating it.

So how do we avoid packing on pounds without missing out on the holidays?

First make sure you don't label foods as off-limits or put them on some list titled "Forbidden Foods"...that is a path to disaster, if not now it will come back to bite you in your thighs later. By making favorite holiday treats taboo you just want them more...the little kid inside of you feels deprived and so you, at some point, when you least expect it, go off the deep end into the binge pool.

Instead, make sure you have lots and lots of healthier choices that you love as well. Make it easy to snack on those and to have flavorful, healthy choices available during meals. For example, I love grilled I splurge and got this vegetable I normally associate with springtime and will have it with my turkey. Notice I said, that you love! This isn't about having healthy choices that feel like punishment...if you hate brussel sprouts this is not the time to try a new recipe with them in it just because it is "healthy"!

Take what you like but leave the rest. If you are like me, there are some Thanksgiving traditions that you can do without. If you are the cook you might actually get away with not serving them...but if your least favorite is the apple of your honey's (or parents' or kids') eye then, guess know you are going to have it around. Just because it is on the table doesn't mean it has to end up on your plate!

I might be brought up on charges of treason, but I really am not a big stuffing fan. People have told me I "have to" try their recipe...that if only I find the right recipe I will be a convert. I finally figured out that it is okay that I just don't like it...I don't "hate" stuffing, but I'd rather have my calories in the form of more mashed potatoes or pie...but that's just me.

Remember, this is not the last time you will have this meal, or this dish! In our age of convenience we do not have to relegate eating turkey and pumpkin pie to only Thanksgiving. When you reach for the cranberry relish or the sweet potato casserole or other treat, take a couple bites knowing that even if the unthinkable happens and there is no more that day, you can always get more!

Make it about people, not food. Connect with the people at the table more than the food on your plate. Holidays are about stories, about family, about friends. Yes, we share good food, but make the food the garnish while the "main course" is the conversation. And if you are talking and listening and obviously having a good time, chances are good no one will notice if you skip the seconds--including you!

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I have given up dieting. It didn't ever work for why stress about it? Instead I focusing on what is really important. I'm going to savor the food I do eat and be grateful for its abundance; I will have some healthy food and some pie and ice cream too; I will eat comfortably knowing that there will always be more where that came from; and I will really connect with my loved ones this holiday season. That's a lot to be thankful for.

1 comment:

Bonnie Gortler said...

Laurie great bog post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. There was some great advice in preparation for the holidays. No gaining 5 pounds for me. I am going to get to my goal for the holidays, however I am still going to enjoy what I love to eat and avoid eating when I am not hungry and what I do not love to eat.

I really related to these words from your article.

First make sure you don't label foods as off-limits or put them on some list titled "Forbidden Foods"...that is a path to disaster, Take what you like but leave the rest. Make it about people, not food. Connect with the people at the table more than the food on your plate.

Thanks again for sharing. Have a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Bonnie Gortler