Q: Dr. Scott, how can I get through Christmas this year without gaining weight?
A: Plan your holiday eating list and check it twice! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — this adage applies to many walks of life, but especially to maintaining the proper diet during the Christmas holidays. In addition to dedicating yourself to eating properly this Christmas, successful weight loss boils down to good planning; more than any other time of the year, planning is paramount during the holiday season.
Before heading to that Christmas party you should plan exactly what you are going to do and say when you are offered food (and drink) that you should not eat. Grandma and Auntie and the kids may say, “Oh, come on, it’s the holidays, just this one time…” But as you know by now, it only takes that one time. You need to plan what you will eat instead, and in what quantity. The more concrete the plan is to you, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Whenever possible, without becoming a Scrooge, plan holiday activities that are not centered on consuming food. There are many old traditions that work well, such as caroling or ice-skating, and certainly many more activities around Pueblo that could become your new traditions.
Be like Santa’s reindeer and graze. Instead of three big meals per day, you should eat smaller portions of something healthy about every two hours, ideally consuming six mini-meals per day. This gives your body a better ability to digest and will leave you feeling satisfied, not hungry, throughout the entire day.
Especially during the holidays, it is important to focus on the desired outcome of your diet when confronted with triple-fudge pie or negative emotions such as “I’m meant to be fat and unhealthy.” Picture yourself thin. Imagine yourself with an intensely higher amount of energy. Envision yourself getting far fewer colds and headaches, and fighting major diseases and living longer. These are the actual results of the healthy diet and lifestyle you are trying to maintain.
Prepare yourself for temptations, as they can’t all be avoided, by preparing to divert your attention back to the desired outcomes of your diet. Don’t cater to the feelings of self-deprivation, and don’t allow yourself to think, “I’ll never be thin anyway,” just to give yourself an excuse to eat that apple cobbler.
Instead, devote your energy to focusing on how wonderful you will feel for having made it past the desserts, past the entire dinner, and past the entire holidays with little or no cave-ins. And if you buckle once and violate your plan for avoiding the holiday weight gain trap, don’t use that as an excuse to keep failing. Re-focus on your outcomes and get back on the plan.
Of course, with some people, the emotional barriers preventing this positive thinking may run deeper. There are multiple methods, from meditation to prayer to professional counseling, that have helped people overcome such barriers.
In my practice, we use a newer approach called applied kinesiology that has been profoundly successful at helping people move themselves beyond mental and emotional issues sabotaging their dietary success.
Whatever method you decide to try, right now during the holidays — when hope runs high but so does temptation — is an ideal time to start practicing it. What better gift to give yourself, and those you love, than a truly healthier you?
- Dr. Scott Cuthbert is a chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two textbooks and over 50 peer-reviewed research articles. PuebloChiropracticCenter.com.