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Holiday Survival Tips for Success, Not Sabotage

Updated on November 17, 2008

Fear & Obsession? Or Pleasure & Confidence?

Are you afraid of embarking on this next holiday season? Too many foods to choose from? Thinking of locking yourself up at home with a container of low-fat cookies and a stair-stepper machine? Consider another alternative: LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH!

Most women will be heading into this holiday season with fears of gaining weight, eating junk food, and overindulging. There are many places to go with this, but why don’t we address success strategies instead of sabotage? As a holistic nutritionist, I work with a lot of different health organizations who are intent on helping women maintain or lose weight this season. While they mean well, achieving weight loss is not a healthy priority. Your health is! This includes the health in your mind, the health of your body image, and the health of your confidence. Do you trust yourself? Do you eat when you’re hungry? Can you be in a room full of decadent desserts and choose the one you really want? Can you eat without guilt? Can you stop when you’re full? That’s trust. That’s health.

It’s time to look at the Dieter's Obsession: Food. Starting with Halloween and carrying on into Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day, a dieter can think of one thing: Food. Miniature chocolate bars, turkey, pumpkin and pecan pies, mashed potatoes, stuffing, ham, roasts, fudge, cookies, champagne, cocktails, and a box of chocolates pretty much sum up these five months of indulgence. Is that what the holidays are really about? Aren’t they about family, friends, a grateful heart, and love? If so, then why is our focus so skewed? Because everything around us is telling us to be thinner, which will make us prettier and, of course, happier.

Love makes us happier and laughter makes us more beautiful. Pass it on.

Will These Ideas Make You Fat?

I doubt it. One writer (S. Shaiman) puts it this way… you can be in a big field of food but be tethered all the time! That’s what it’s like being on a diet, restricting yourself from everything. Or, you can be in a small meadow and roaming free. That’s what it’s like when you abandon the dieter’s mentality, give yourself free range, and make decisions to choose food with purpose and to eat when you’re hungry. What a concept!!!!

The most ironic realization that I and many others researchers have had is that dieting is what makes people fat. It’s starvation, which leads to bingeing, no matter what program or lifestyle change we swear we’re committing to for the rest of our lives. If 95% of ALL diets fail, where do we turn?

Turn to a model many of us are embracing: the anti-diet. Linda Bacon researches this phenomenon in her new book: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. And Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch write about their program in Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. I won’t get into my own story here, but as a survivor of several eating disorders and severe body-hatred, I have adapted easily to the anti-diet lifestyle with only a decrease in weight and an increased appreciation for food, pleasure, cravings, and my body! Contact me for more information, if you are interested.

Before the Party

Snack: Make snacks your new best friends! Unlike the diet magazines’ advice, it’s not about filling up before you go out, because we all know that’s a recipe for disaster. The purpose of snacks is to honor your hunger; relish in a sense of fullness, so that you’re content and don’t reach a point of desperation, eating everything in sight. Before going out, if you’re hungry, have: a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, a cup of yogurt, or an apple with cheese or nut-butter.

BYOF: Bring Your Own Food. You’ll know it’s good, you'll know you like it and everyone will thank you for it! Try roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, a beautiful green, winter salad, or a broth-based soup (chicken, miso, lentil).

8 Steps to Breaking the Dieter's Cycle

1. Acknowledge your hunger without judgment.

2. Feed your cravings, one bite at a time.

3. Eat when you’re hungry.

4. Stop when you’re full.

5. Find pleasure in your food again, no matter how good or bad it is.

6. Get rid of the "good food / bad food" idea!

7. Nurture yourself like you would your own child: Would you punish a child for eating a high-carb breakfast, by not allowing him to eat for six hours? Doubtful.

8. Take part in a food meditation: Eat one bite of food after looking at it for a few moments, smelling it, touching it, and thinking about it. Place it on your tongue with reverence and do not chew. Smoosh it to the roof of your mouth, run it over your teeth, and basically revel in how that food melts and breaks down with saliva alone, no teeth! Finally, chew, taste, and swallow. Taking a moment to appreciate our food will remind us what we originally loved about it!

During the Party

Appetizers: Are they really worth it? If you aren't making dinner out of them, don't bother. As for walking around and mingling before settling down to a meal, keep your hands full - a glass of water, a napkin -- so you don't reach for what you don't really want.

Liquid Lubricant: Beware of alcohol! Drinking before your meal reduces your inhibitions. You're more likely to drink more alcohol and have less thought toward your food choices if you're toting a buzz. Instead, save that drink until the end of dinner, if you even want it anymore.

Friends don't let friends party alone: Let a friend in on your desire to not overdo it this holiday season. Ask for their support when you're out together, be it shopping or partying. Keep each other's glasses filled with water and encourage each other to move past the not-so-appetizing appetizers on to a more worthy course: dinner.

Design-A-Plate: 1/2 = Vegetables (green, leafy, cruciferous), 1/4 = protein, 1/4 = carbs & fat. (Do we really want to talk ounces, portion sizes, carbohydrate grams, or cups? No. That doesn't work and requires methodical, strategic, obsessive behavior!)

3-Bites? There's a 3-Bite Rule out there. Have three bites of something you really want: dainty, little, delicate bites as if you are on TV. I say, take one bite. If it's delicious and decadent and you're hungry? Eat it. Enjoy it. Revel in it.

Tips for Today, Tomorrow, and after the Holidays

Find your motivation: Why do you want to eat better this holiday season? You have more energy! You don't want to beat yourself up afterward. You don't want another stomach-ache. It's not a game of numbers on a scale or inches around your hips - it's about you.

Self-Talk: If you think you will "lose it", you already have. Use affirmations. Say, "I eat when I'm hungry." "I make wise choices." "I trust my body." You may have your commitments to weight loss and you might want to stick really close to a diet mentality. You may also want to have a bite of fudge, a sip of egg nog, or a cookie without beating yourself up! Love yourself and show it in the way you talk to yourself.

Reward yourself in other ways: a new dress, a bubble bath, a pedicure, a massage, an afternoon with a novel... whatever fills you up!

Keep a food journal: Not to judge yourself but to maintain awareness of what you ate, when, and with whom. And were you hungry?

Joyful Movement: How many fun ways can you move this holiday season? No, not exercise or work-outs, but joyful moving?! Shop! Do a couple laps around the mall (inside or out) before and after your spending-spree. Take a walk in the evening to unwind with your sweetie and talk about your day. Dance at those holiday parties! Our bodies are glorious, miraculous creations designed to move.

What Your Holistic Nutritionist Can Do For You!

Clean Pantries & Farmer's Markets: Hire your local holistic nutritionist for a pantry clean-out session so you can have a fresh and healthy holiday pantry waiting for you after those long days of work and evenings of shopping. Hire her for an accompanied shopping session at your nearest winter farmer's market too. Now's not the time to start eating out of boxes and bags - keep it fresh!

Cooking: Discover new recipes. I'm personally tired of that old crunchy, greasy, canned soup creation called a green bean casserole. Ask your holistic nutritionist to teach you some new recipes out of some tired favorites. Mashed potatoes made out of cauliflower or parsnips and potatoes. Homemade mineral broth to supplement your casseroles. Sweet potatoes... sweet!

Supplemental Support: Ask your holistic practitioner about what supplements you can have on hand for the following: Cravings -- Chromium Synergy, L-Glutamine Caps, CraveArrest. Fat Burning -- CarniClear Liquid, CLA, EGCg. Party-Support -- AminoDetox (3 pre, post, and in the a.m.), MSM (1 tsp. pre-, post-, and in the a.m.). Before and After shakes: PaleoCleanse (1 scoop), PaleoMeal (1 scoop), Paleo Fiber (1 tsp), fresh fruit (i.e., 1/2 c strawberries, pomegranates, soft pears...).

Check out these books!!!

The Healing Secrets of Food: A Practical Guide for Nourishing Body, Mind, and Soul
The Healing Secrets of Food: A Practical Guide for Nourishing Body, Mind, and Soul

Food is medicine - you decide if that's helpful or not! Make food special again. Celebrate with it. Honor yourself and others through it!



Bacon, L. (2008). Health at every size: The Surprising truth about your weight. BenBella: Dallas.

Hirschmann, J. R. & Munter, C. H. (1995). When women stop hating their bodies: Freeing yourself from food and weight obsession. Ballantine Books: New York.

Kesten, D. (2001). The Healing secrets of food: A Practical guide for nourishing body, mind, and soul. New World Library: Novato.

Shaiman, S. (2004). If the Buddha came to dinner: How to nourish your body to awaken your spirit. Hyperion: New York.

Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2003). Intuitive eating: A Revolutionary program that works. St. Martin's Press: New York.


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    • Rice Crispy profile image

      Rice Crispy 

      10 years ago from Roslyn, NY

      Very nice hub filled with great holiday info. I love the "liquid lubricant" choice of words

    • jenshinn profile image


      10 years ago from Scottsdale, AZ

      Great ideas! If you are looking for a way to treat yourself try this cool Turkey Ice Cream Cake.


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