Holidays typically present an extra challenge to individuals
trying to lose weight. It's the biggest time of year to
celebrate and reward ourselves. The work environment, with
built-in expectations of client/vendor, coworker, and company
partying, is no exception. But with careful planning you can
join in the festivities, stay motivated, maintain your discipline,
and avoid feeling deprived.
Before The Event:
- Eat your regular low carb meals each day:
The strategy of
cutting back on a meal to save your food allowance for use at
the party usually backfires. You may show up at the event
ravenous and out of control, ready to eat anything that appeals
to you whether it's approved or not. Don't try to be a
super-hero. The combination of normal hunger and abnormal
temptations is enough to push the most determined person
over the edge.
- Plan ahead:
To the extent that you can, plan ahead by
developing a simple strategy for what you'll eat when you
get to the event. Denying yourself favorite foods during
the holidays often leaves one feeling deprived and resentful.
It may even lead to a "come what may" attitude.
You know your personality. Be honest with yourself about your
weak points. If it will help you avoid over-indulging at the
event to have a low-carb snack before you get there, do so.
If you know ahead of time that your options will be next to
nothing at a supper party then eat your regular low carb meal
before you go. At the event you can then nibble on what is
available under your plan. If you need to promise yourself
a small treat in order to keep everything else under control,
then do it.
At The Event:
With the above thoughts in mind, Happy Holidays!
- Survey the food scene.
When you arrive at the event, check out
the food options before you indulge — everything from appetizers
to desserts. This way you'll know what areas to avoid before you
get your plate.
When you're ready to eat, go first to the vegetables (salad and
other stand-alone approved veggies, for example), protein (boiled
shrimp, grilled scallops, chicken wings, cheese, roast beef, turkey
breast, and deviled eggs are typically good choices) and other foods
you've determined ahead of time that you can have.
Karen, a supervisor at a medical supply company, always adds the
roast beef, turkey breast, cheese and egg, if available, to salad
ingredients to make a nice meal for herself. She carries a small
container of approved dressing in her purse for these types of
If you're not sure what will be available to eat before you go,
ask the event planner. In the unlikely event that nothing will
be unacceptable — most planners at least serve a salad - offer
to bring a low carb dish to the event. Or, ask if it would be
alright to bring some low carb food for yourself.
- Contribute something.
To help get through the holidays, Meredith, who enjoys cooking, has
accumulated a small arsenal of crowd-pleasing low carb recipes. She
prepares a couple of things — usually an appetizer and a desert, or
a side dish — to compliment the main meal, along with a desert.
Mark, on the other hand, isn't into cooking. He will pick up an
approved ranch dip and veggies as well as some low carb crackers
and cheese. He says he can usually get through the meal alright
and doesn't mind skipping desert.
Avoid a heaping plateful. Take small portions and small bites.
Eat slowly so you can savor each mouthful. If you're still hungry
you can always go back for more of what you have approved.
- Focus on socializing.
Wander around and mingle with people while holding a glass of water
or other allowed beverage. This will keep you occupied and away from
the food and help prevent people from offering to "get you something
Carolyn's strategy is to avoid sitting around the grab-a-bunch candy
dish and nuts. As she says, "Otherwise I may find myself nibbling
through a can of salted cashews." She's not alone - most of us can
relate to that. We just don't have the resolve to avoid that sort
of temptation. So Carolyn is smart to avoid putting herself in that
- Drink in moderation.
Sip on a glass of wine or a glass of mineral water. Nick, who doesn't
drink alcohol, asks for spring water with lemon or lime slices added
for a festive look. Or, he will take a small container of sugar-free
tea mix with him. At the event he'll pour the tea into a glass of water
and add some ice cubes and lemon slices. This satisfies him and he
sticks to his plan.
- Convey the appearance of being taken care of.
Any good host or
hostess will make an extra effort to see that their quests are taken
care of. They will be less likely to tempt you with forbidden goodies
if you carry around a small plate with a bit of food on it. If that
food is something you don't like, so much the better!
- Reward yourself.
Denise has a cup of decaffeinated coffee or tea with a sampling of
a dessert toward the end of the event to help avoid "feeling deprived."
If the event calls for it, Barbara prepares a low carb desert to add to
the desert table. Most party-givers welcome additional items to set out
and she knows there's at least one treat that's low-carb. Look for
recipes here at Low Carb Luxury.
You can carry the "reward yourself" strategy one step further, and
apply it to the holidays as a whole. From the calendar, decide what
the most difficult period will be for you, and then give yourself points
at the end of each day depending on how well you did. At the end of the
holidays, give yourself a real treat depending on your total score. And
it doesn't have to be food.
Copyright © December 2004 Terri Lynch and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty for Low Carb Luxury