Friday, November 30, 2012

How Can I Eat Without Gaining Weight Over the Holidays?

I am 23 years old, 5'4" and 130 pounds. I have started eating healthier and exercising to lose a few pounds. I'm doing well now, but I'm concerned about my trip home for Christmas. My family cooks a lot of really delicious foods, including special holiday cookies. I want to be able to enjoy the meals with my family, but can I eat some of these treats without undoing the work I've already done?  Melissa G.

Hi Melissa,

Congratulations on your resolve to eat better through the holidays. One of the theories of obesity is not that people stuff themselves every day, but that they gain 1 or 2 pounds over each holiday/vacation, and never take it off! So you can really save yourself a lot of trouble in the future by watching what you eat now.

Have a plan: keeping a food diary is an excellent idea because it keeps you aware of what you are eating. There are many websites (like and that help you do this, and an app called LoseIt if you have a smart phone. You could also just get a tiny notebook that is easy to carry around (intake should be recorded within 15-20 minutes of eating, or people tend to forget what they nibbled).

What is a reasonable number of cookies for you to have each day? Would it help to save them until the end of the day? Would a set plan like, "I will only have one cookie at a time and I will sit at the table to eat each one slowly and savor it" help?

Consider in what ways you are likely to overeat and then write up a strategy for yourself. Rules like "I will only eat when I am hungry" or "I will only eat while sitting down" can be helpful.

It might also help you to have a "mantra" that you repeat to yourself often throughout the day that describes how you want to get through the time at home: for example, "Food is a small part of enjoying this time with my family. Having a taste of something will be even more satisfying than eating a big portion because I'll be happy with myself at the end of the day for making the right choices."

If you'd like, send me your plan and I'll give you some feedback so you'll be set in time for the holidays!