How to stop holiday eating


Sunday, November 25, 2018

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THE holiday season has begun, and many people are looking at plans for social eating, office parties, time with friends and, of course, time with family.

The food will be plentiful and more varied than usual. The goal will be to allow everyone the opportunity to feel filled and welcome.

If you are health conscious, you may be considering how you should navigate this minefield of excessive gravy and sugars. Should you:

• Let go of your healthy-eating goals and catch up after the holidays?

• Double down on your calorie restrictions around your holiday eating occasions so you can give yourself more allowance on your heavy eating days?

• Just give up on your wellness because holidays will always happen, so what's the point of trying?

• Or perhaps the favourite of so many — take a break for the holidays?

Well, the answer is simple, don't do a blooming thing, just enjoy.

Go to your functions; enjoy, share the experiences with your fellow workers, friends and family. Foods are a part of life's experiences: when you deny yourself, you are separating yourself from that opportunity.

It is the mindset that an entire holiday season will unravel your wellness goals which does the most damage.

Putting weight on eating issues will put weight on you. The feelings of fear, futility and guilt will do many times more damage than the food possibly can.

The average person will gain roughly one pound during the holidays. The day after you have to pull your belt or walk off (or sit out) that gut-banging Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, you may see an extra four pounds on the scale, but relax. At least three pounds of that is the food working its way through your system, plus water trapped by sodium and bonded to the extra sugars in your system. Essentially you will pee most of it away.

So why are all the health experts giving advise about how to eat for the holidays? Mostly because that is what people will read. You are, after all, reading this right now.

And giving a list of do's and/or don'ts is known to be a winner for writers; of course, the advice is good — not necessary, but good. Advice such as:

• When you choose proteins, choose mostly the less fatty options;

• Be liberal with the vegetables;

• Be conservative with the sugars and simple carb selections — just sample one or two if you must;

• Go light with the gravy and dressings because that is where the bad oils, sugars and extra calories are hiding;

• Don't hang around where the food is and avoid having seconds;

• Try to avoid drinking your calories and choose one holiday drink if you must, but water is best otherwise;

• Enjoy the company, make it more important than the food;

• Don't go completely hungry as it will trigger binging. Eat a very light meal or two before;

• Have relatively light eating days before and after the big meal days;

• Chew your foods thoroughly and eat slowly to give your brain time to catch up with how full your stomach really is — yes, your grandmother was right;

• Carry a mint with you and pop it in when you think you should stop eating, it will weaken the impulse to go for seconds.

Yes, all that good stuff, and they are all correct, but none of that will make a real difference if you have the wrong mindset towards eating and healthy nutrition.

In fact, it would be better that you ate until you literally could not move for hours, but in life you had the right mindset.

The real problem

Chances are, if any of this is of issue to you, weight management has been, or is, an issue for you, and there is a lot more to this than holiday eating.

The real problems with holiday eating are:

1. Snowball effect: Sadly, by design, as it is with any addiction, a little of this or a little of that will often trigger a reaction which, simply put, will sound like, “Well, I have already eaten so badly, I may as well enjoy myself and make up for it in the future”, which is, of course, a slippery slope.

2. Holiday anxieties: The holidays carry anxieties for many of us — the costs — the expectations, the introspection, all of which can cause emotional eating triggers, causing us to compound the one or two celebration meals.

3. Habituation triggers: The holidays come bundled with the precept of: Eat, drink and be merry. This is a major issue as addiction is triggered by familiar circumstances, places, people, and one, two or all three of these triggers come bundled with the holidays. Psychologically, and physiologically, indulging in your habits can trigger your unhealthy behavior patterns.

4. Damaged planning and routines: You may have several office and family occasions which will take you off your regular schedule, making it difficult to stick to an eating plan every day. If you are recovering or fighting habituation, routine is everything, and getting back on that routine is optimally important.

The 'simple' solution

Do not “take a break” from your wellness plan, it must always be your way of life.

Never think of extra calorie days as cheat days. Include them into your plan and use management skills to ensure that you maintain your wellness lifestyle.

Dump the guilt, and take the increase on the scale as a learning experience. Knowledge is power and with health management this is especially true.

If you know you have a real problem with control and snowballing, and you choose to apply eating restrictions, do it firmly and happily; know that you are not avoiding a pleasure, you are avoiding a problem. Have a little more of what is good and healthy for you, and share in the experience in all the other ways.

Above all this, remember, wellness must never take a break, so stay vigilant and stay on track. There is nothing more important than your wellness, you work to finance your life, so don't destroy it. You spend time with friends and family who want to spend time with you, your life, your wellness is most important.

According to one ITK Member, Andrea: “This holiday season I have committed to myself to make it through to January without gaining weight. I know with the support of the ITK team and my focused mindset I will do it.”

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at

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