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One question I get asked over and over again is how to spend the holidays. I’ve written other posts about it, but then it got me thinking that there really isn’t a “holiday season”. What I mean by that is yes, there are holidays, but we have events throughout the year when we are faced with less than desirable food choices. If you live in colder climates, January through April or so is your comfort food time, which is usually heavier food. Let’s not forget Valentine’s Day, when most people go out to eat. There are also baptisms, first communions, Holy Week, Easter, etc. There is Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June. Memorial Day kicks off summer parties, golf, barbecue season, right? So now it becomes oh man how do I go to these picnics week after week and stick to my diet? Now we come to the big holiday of Labor Day, local fairs, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Years. Oh, and that doesn’t include all birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. Do you see a pattern here?

The actual fact of the matter is that there is no season in which we have temptations. They face us every day. We have to determine if and how we want to make lifestyle changes to overcome all these events. They’re always going to be there and if you indulge in that “oh, it’s only occasionally pig day” thing, that’s one thing. But look at all the days in a month that can add up. They can add up to at least 4 or more times a month. That’s not once in a while, that’s completely sabotaging your hard work. So you have to decide what is most important to you. Busting your ass all week with a clean diet and amazing workout routines to blow it up every weekend? Or would you rather bust your butt off all week with a clean diet, amazing exercise, and learning how to control what you eat and drink?

I already know what you’re going to say, because I hear it all the time. Well, so-and-so invited me, I can’t be rude. Well, first of all, if so-and-so is your family or friend or colleague and they’re inviting you, they should know your lifestyle well enough to know what’s important to you. There’s nothing wrong with asking what’s on the menu. Say you’d like to bring a plate. If you say no, you have a lot, say OK, but could you tell me anyway? Would it be okay if I brought a snack from a bottle of wine? Then at least you’ll know what they’re serving. And if you know that all the food won’t be anything you can eat, then bring something you can eat. Yes, I did. If they insult them, then they don’t really respect you or care about you. I cook beef when friends come over because I know they enjoy it. It’s not my favorite so I make it for them and always have a salad and lots of vegetables. So I’ll stick to that, or do chicken or something else along with the meat dish. You have to decide what you are comfortable with and what is important to you. If it’s someone you don’t know very well and you’re just making friends, then what the heck do you eat before you get there. And either way, bring something to the host/hostess. I’m sorry, I don’t care how well you know them or not, they told me it’s impolite to show up anywhere empty handed. You could even bring flowers. It doesn’t matter even if it’s one of my sister’s houses, they say don’t bring anything, I’ll bring something.

Let me see if I can break down some tips for you.

  • Eat something beforehand so you don’t starve yourself (which will give you more motivation to say no to the “junk” you know your mind wants but your body doesn’t crave).
  • Bring something healthy that you know you will eat and that you can share with others.
  • Opt for the healthier appetizers: veggies/no dip (or maybe hummus), shrimp cocktail, dip (over veggies or baked pita wedges)
  • For the main course, select mainly vegetables, salad, etc. limit your amounts of animal protein (no larger than the palm of your hand) and skip carbs if it’s after lunch.
  • If it’s a picnic; stay away from any mayonnaise salad (including coleslaw) or potato/white pasta salad. (Besides ewwww mayonnaise on the heat? I think not).
  • Choose salads made with salad dressing, fresh vegetables like broccoli slaw, cole slaw without the creamy dressing.
  • If you are going to eat animal protein, skip the bread and cheese. Be careful with the seasonings.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink lots and lots of water.
  • If you are drinking alcohol, try mineral water with a little alcohol or wine. You will still get the alcohol, but fewer calories and you will drink it more slowly.
  • If you want dessert, allow yourself a taste, not a whole piece. Ten bites of something won’t taste better than the first bite. Taste it and enjoy it, don’t overdo it.
  • If you’re dining out, skip the bread and carbs altogether.
  • Order a salad, extra veggies and order your meat/fish grilled or baked and don’t ask for “sauce/marinade” unless it’s on the side.

when harry met sally
We’ve all seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, right? Sally orders everything on the side, or she is totally different from the menu. That’s how I am. I’ll tell you, I have friends who still lash out at me about how annoying I am when we go out to eat. Here’s what I tell them: “I’m paying for it, so I have to get what I want. If it’s on the menu, I should be able to have it with my meal. Frankly, I cook better than most places we end up eating, so if I’m going to pay money, I’m going to get what I want.” I don’t care if they like it or not, because it comes down to my health. And whether people choose to eat salads drenched in dressing to look like soup, fried foods, butter, sour cream, that’s up to them. It’s not my bussiness. I try very hard not to say anything when they complain about how they feel and how they should lose weight. I bite my tongue and take a deep breath. The bottom line is that you can decide what you want to do. It is your health and your body. You only have one life: make the choices you can LIVE with.

I hope you find these tips useful. Here’s to your health and conscious decisions.

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