Battling the Holiday Bulge

Sun gazing Photos

Sun gazing Photos

It’s my sister’s fault that I overeat from October to January. Many years ago, sitting on the front steps of our porch, slurping root beer floats, Barbara and I decided Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and our birthdays were free-eating days; we could eat anything we wanted, all day, with no guilt.

We didn’t inform Mom.

A day of guilt-free excess seemed too brilliant an idea to discontinue, and I’ve remained true to holiday gluttony—though I now pursue it with less vigor than when young.

My birthday is in November; so beginning with Halloween, I party: popcorn balls, and bite-sized candy bars followed by birthday cake with caramel frosting; then on to pumpkin pie, and more pumpkin pie followed by fudge, frosted sugar cookies, and eggnog.

Too often, on January 2nd I plummet from a sugar high and realize my clothes don’t fit—the end result of my feeding frenzy, literally. From  experience, I know how to recover. First, I don’t diet. To ask me to give up the food I love with no reprieve in sight is inhumane. You might as well tell me to tape my mouth closed; I’m as likely to do it.

I’ve read I should practice “Hara Hachi Bu,” a Japanese saying that means stop eating when 80% full. Evidently it takes 20 minutes for our brains to recognize a satisfied stomach, so we should wait that long before reaching for seconds.

In my experience, if I stop eating for twenty minutes, others eat the food or refrigerate it. And how do I know when I’m 80% full? What physical symptom communicates, “Hey, old girl, the needle’s at 80; better nap for 20 minutes.”

I can’t take such extreme measures; here’s what I do instead.

I return to healthy foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in recommended portions. Experts say an entrée should be approximately the size of one’s palm. Praises be, I inherited my father’s hands.

I eat only at mealtime, no snacking allowed. Because I can’t snack, I’m driven to eat three meals a day whether hungry or not. On occasion, when immersed in a project, I glance at the clock and realize I must eat lunch, because in an hour, it will be time for dinner. I seem to think that skipping even one meal will plunge me back into incessant snacking.

I ban desert. Except on weekends. My willpower self-destructs after five days. If I deny myself longer, eventually I throw aside restraint, eat everything sweet in the house, and then scrabble through cupboards looking for stray chocolate chips.

If I follow my plan, forgiving myself for wallowing to the dark side on Valentine’s Day, after several weeks of such restraint, I realize my clothes are less snug—just in time for marshmallow bunnies, chocolate crème eggs, and jellybeans

Have some thoughts to share
about your holiday eating and/or recovery?
Leave a comment.
Together, we’ll solve this problem.

Summary of comments on “Worthwhile Resolutions”
What a treasure trove of ideas followed this column. Dawna adapted the appreciations idea: she plans to write one a night and put it in a jar so she can reread them at year’s end. Katie suggested creating a yearlong theme to guide your actions, rather than a single resolution. She chose Renewal as her theme. Mercy adopted the ideas of both Dawna and Katie and decided her theme will be Authenticity. I chose Convictions for myself, as in act on your convictions. Finally, Tuba North recommended listening to good music to lighten your mood and included a piece too lovely to describe. You might want to visit the comments from last weeks’ blog and listen to it. I think you’ll like it.

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6 thoughts on “Battling the Holiday Bulge

  1. Good to hear from you,T.D. Davis, and your advice is exactly right: calories in and calories out. I do exercise to keep that equation in balance, but sometimes I get carried away and my calories in exceed “within reason.” But I’m back on track now.

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  2. Great advise!!! I blame my snacking habits on genetics 🙂 My mom always told me that Great Grandma Hall loved to snack on junk food. I loved that woman; so it only makes sense that I would emulate her!! 🙂

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    • I loved snacking on the soft, chewy cookies my Grandma Hall always had available for hungry grandchildren. She once served me ice cream sprinkled with Grape-Nuts, saying the cereal gave the ice cream a nice crunch and increased its health value.

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