Ho Ho Hum... No More Silly Holiday Eating Advice

Are you tired of it yet?

I'm not talking about the holiday shopping frenzy, the incessant holiday music, or the goodies everywhere. I'm talking about all of the "How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain" articles.

An online search for "How avoid holiday weight gain" turned up 4.2 million entries. If you read one article every minute, it would take you eight years to read them all - except the number of articles would continue to multiply while you were reading them!

Perhaps you recognize the story formula:

Cheery Opening + Fear Mongering + Clever Advice = "Newsworthy" Article that will attract fearful and/or hopeful eyeballs.

Here's an example (with my interpretation of the messages in parentheses).

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

It's that time of year: holiday parties, family dinners, and fudge in the break room. (Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) To get a jump start on your New Year's Resolutions (Never fear! There will be another article using the same formula on January 1st for all those who didn't follow this holiday advice), follow these five simple rules. Did you ever notice that we often use odd numbers? Clever, isn't it?

  • Eat before you go to a party so you won't be tempted by all the goodies. (Really? Do you also recommend maxing out your credit cards before you go Christmas shopping?)
  • Wear tight clothing to the party to prevent yourself from overeating. (Feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious is a small price to pay to prevent yourself from enjoying your favorite food.)
  • Drink seltzer water with a squeeze of lime in place of eggnog with rum. (I don't know many people who love eggnog, but for those who do, this is like recommending crunching on carrots when you love potato chips.)
  • Hold a glass and a plate so it's impossible to eat. (You'll look ridiculous trying to nibble a rolling meatball or sneaking slurps from the side of your cheesecake.)
  • Schedule a session with your personal trainer the next morning to burn off any extra calories that slipped by your radar. (The punishment must fit the crime.)

Ho Ho Hum

That kind of advice leads to conflicted, calorie-focused party goers. I follow a different formula:

Loving food more, not less = Balanced eating year round

Here's the "healthy holiday" story using this formula instead.

Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat

It's that time of year: holiday parties, family dinners, and fudge in the break room. There are so many opportunities to enjoy the foods you love, how will you decide when, what, and how much to eat? Here are five strategies to try while there are plenty of opportunities to experiment:

  • Trust your body wisdom. Tune into your signals of hunger and satiety to guide your eating before, during, and after the party. Being either famished or already full when you arrive sets you up for being uncomfortably full when you leave.
  • Treat yourself to pleasures besides food. Choose clothing that is beautiful, flattering, and comfortable so you feel and project your best.
  • Eat (and drink) what you really love. And skip anything that isn't fabulous! The first few bites are for flavor, the rest are for fuel. (After the first few delicious bites, the flavor begins to fade anyway so you're just eating a memory.)
  • Love what you eat. Sensuously savor one small bite at a time, appreciating the appearance, aromas, flavors, and textures of your favorite foods as you eat them.
  • Practice extreme self-care. Choose activities that are the most meaningful to you, stay active, and schedule down-time to relax and enjoy the holidays!

And a bonus tip: Stop reading those tired old articles and invest your time and energy in really celebrating the season, food and all!