Thanksgiving And Christmas Food: How To Diet Through The Holiday Season

Here's some advice on maintaing weight through and diet goals over the tempting holiday season.

Ah, Thanksgiving. Endless spreads of health food shakes and celery stalks, baked fish and green salads. Doesn't sound like Thanksgiving at your home, does it? Most of us envision tables filled with pies and cakes, positioned next to a dining room banquet of roast turkey, thick gravy, mashed potatoes and heaps of stuffing. We usually eat until we have reached the breaking point, then continue to nibble as the day goes on. Immediately following our second helpings, we watch television or talk while reclining listlessly on the couch. Few of us would even consider trying to exercise on such a wonderful holiday.

But for many dieters, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner can create some anxieties. Should they stick to their diet plans and eat only healthy foods, or should they abandon their diets in favor of a holiday tradition? Would their host be offended if they choose not to partake of such a lavish feast? Will they be able to maintain their weight loss goals if they decide to indulge?

Here are three approaches for dieters during the Thanksgiving season, based on the level at which they wish to maintain their original food plans.

1. Hardcore dieting. If you are concerned that even one day off your personal food plan will cause serious disruptions, then you have little choice but to stick to your guns at Thanksgiving. Bring your own diet foods with you to the family dinner, or restrict yourself to only those foods that match your diet plan precisely. Carbohydrate-restrictive dieters should avoid the mashed potatoes, but indulge in the white meat turkey. High protein dieters should concentrate on the meat and beans and avoid temptations such as high-carb fruits or pies. If you have a specific formula, such as a diet shake or protein powder, bring a supply with you and proceed as usual. Don't be unduly concerned with what your host may think of your diet regimen- it's your plan and your body. Join in the rest of the activities and traditions with enthusiasm and try not to dwell on the temptations presented by an overabundance of food. Drink plenty of water to maintain a sense of fullness, and take a multivitamin to restore balance whenever following a restrictive diet.

2. Moderate indulgence. If you believe that your diet plan can withstand a short relapse, go ahead and dig into the buffet, with moderation of course. Eat much smaller portions than you would ordinarily, so your total caloric intake won't overwhelm a system that may be in starvation mode.

Prepare a normal dinner plate with normal serving proportions. Try to eat at your regular time of the day, so your metabolism rate won't be affected too much. If you begin to feel lightheaded before the meal is ready, eat a few crackers or a light salad. You still want to be hungry when the meal is served. Eat slowly and deliberately, without reloading your plate. Allow twenty minutes to elapse before considering seconds. After you've finished your first meal of the day, resist the temptation to sleep or vegetate on the couch. Plan a brisk walk or engage in an active sport such as basketball or touch football. Throw a frisbee or play catch. Do something active in order to burn off the excess calories and re-energize your batteries following a heavy meal. Wait until you are actually hungry before returning to the table. Again, prepare an average meal with average portions. If you wish to sample the dessert tray, take small portions of each dish, not necessarily the large slices presented. Limit doggy bags to lunch-sized meals, to avoid temptation once you return to your diet plan.

3. Liberal diet plan. If you feel like throwing caution to the wind, then go full force with the holiday spirit. One day of indulgence will not hurt your dieting efforts irreversibly, and you are entitled to a reward once in a while. Other dieters will be going off their own programs, so you are not alone. Enjoy the friends, the food, the afternoon naps and the endless football games.

If you're just dying to try your aunt's fudge cake, grab a slice before it disappears. When you're completely full, quit. Until then, enjoy the pleasures of eating without remorse or guilt. You are on a holiday, so let go and enjoy your day.

But remember that holidays and rewards do not last forever. If you are serious about your diet and food plan, be prepared to return to it the very next day. The day after an overindulgence can be critical to a dieter. If you have the strength and willpower to control your food intake following such a holiday, then you should feel very proud of yourself. A successful diet shouldn't depend on strict adherence, but on the follower's desire and fortitude. If you find it difficult to return to your food plan after a day of indulgence, then you may want to reconsider your diet. You can choose to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays or other occasions any way you like, but your food plan is often your lifeline to a better way of living. Surviving a holiday feast can be a good way to measure how far you've come and how far you need to go with your particular food plan. Listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.

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