Top 5 Food Survival Tips for Staying on Your Diet During the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is almost here—and so is the first wave of invitations to holiday parties and gatherings with friends and family. It can be a rough time for those of us who want to stay away from certain foods or who favor a certain type of food preparation. Unless you’re planning to host all of these get-togethers and prepare all the food, your willpower is going to be tested. In other words, diet challenges are just around the corner.

Here are five of my favorite ways to survive the holidays when it comes to food:

#5: Know that you have options. If, by accepting a particular invitation, you’re certain to indulge in things you absolutely should not indulge in, politely decline. Simply say, “What a bummer. I won’t be able to make it that night. But thanks for thinking of me.” Learning to say “no” is a skill not many of us have mastered—but should. New Year’s resolution, anyone?

#4: Recruit help. Bring along someone who knows your food lifestyle, and who is willing to call you out. Make up a code word or phrase to use if your moment of weakness surfaces. Better yet, make it something funny so you can have a laugh while you’re at it. I remember a time when a friend and I used the code phrase, “I avoid clichés like the plague.” We’d seen it on a t-shirt once and laughed until we cried.

#3: Cut yourself some slack. If you do give in to a guilty pleasure, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day, and you can easily get right back on track. I always tell myself and others: “It’s only a big deal if I make it a big deal.” I’ve found these words can be applied to most things in life.

#2: Bribe yourself. Yes, I said it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m perfectly willing to make a deal with myself when necessary—and you shouldn’t be ashamed either. In fact, I kick off the holiday party season with a pact I make with myself: stick with my diet choices, and get rewarded with a personal treat. For me, this usually takes the form of a CD or book I’ve been eyeing, or sometimes a massage. When you choose your own reward, make sure it’s something that will make sacrificing those cut-out Christmas cookies worth it. I admit that while most of the time I earn the reward, occasionally I have to take my own advice from #3.

#1: Contribute to the menu. This is my all-time favorite survival tip! First I’ll find out what’s on the menu, then offer to bring my own version of a dish that works harmoniously with the rest of the meal. This way I know I won’t have to say “no” to at least one item on the table. Of course, there’s always the chance that no one else will try your dish—like the time everyone politely stayed away from my pumpkin and black bean soup. Even though this soup is one of my absolute favorites, with a nice spicy kick, most of the party-goers couldn’t get past the unusual flavor combination enough to even try it. The bright side was not having to make lunch or supper the next day because of all the leftovers!

What are some of your favorite survival tips for making it through the holiday season without gobbling up anything and everything that’s put in front of you?

Photo from iStock/adlifemarketing

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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