Jewels: Frankly, there are three days of the year I have never been on a diet – my birthday, Thanksgiving day, and Christmas day, but only those days (not the whole period leading up to them), and I do not give myself a license for gluttony, just more indulgence than usual. I’ve already written about eating healthy over the holidays, but how do you handle them on a diet? Lane Buckman shares her thoughts on it.

Julie Anne Rhodes wearing the Antony Price Jessica Rabbit dress

Lane: I don’t know about your family, but mine celebrates with food.  Growing up in the South, our holiday tables were overflowing with turkey and ham, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, homemade biscuits, peas and beans, and squash from the garden, ears of corn from the farmer’s market shucked and scraped into real cream and sugar, collard greens, cucumber salad, and dessert. Cake. Pie. Ice Cream. And we ate like that for days on end, feasting down to the last turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving until December 23rd, and then we started cooking again and ate through the new year.

I thought I was fat, and was afraid my stomach pooched out too far

When you’re eight and your metabolism runs like a steam engine, you can afford to spend six weeks out of the year eating like you’re in training for a competition, but when you’re forty?  Well, my metabolism and I have been giving each other side-eye since I was about twenty-six years old.  I’ve been off and on diets for the last seven years, and frankly, going into the holidays on a diet makes my taste buds sad.

I can’t talk to you about diets and food without telling you that I have worried about my weight since second grade.  I caught body dysmorphia from my mother, who was an athletic, fit woman who was always worried she wasn’t fit enough.  In second grade, I would try to hide my seven-year-old belly under my arms, afraid it pooched out too much when I sat down.

In high school, after years of working in the entertainment industry, I had a completely misinformed view of myself.  I was sick with self-disgust when I had to trade up to a small from an extra-small in my 6 Flags uniform, never mind that I had grown two inches over that summer.

Still thought I was a moose.  Might have had something to do with those linebacker shoulder pads, though!

Somewhere in my late 20s and early 30s, I made peace with my body.  Peace came with a Snicker bar, though, and I ate my way up to a weight I never should have forced my frame to carry.  It’s been a long fight back and forth to get myself into a healthier state, and I continue my vision quest toward what I think is a fit, realistic mass.  So all that said, here are my tips for enjoying the holidays whether you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight.

Consider your goals, and what you can live with as a shift in your goals if you want to indulge.  Right now, I am on a Calorie In/Calorie Out plan that shakes out to between .5 and 1.0lbs loss per week.  Over the holidays, I might decide that I am okay with losing .25 to .5lbs per week, and shift my intake/outtake to those numbers.  Or, I might decide that I am okay just maintaining over the holidays, and that I will worry about losing again after.

I think about it like this:  I’m not on a timeline.  I’m on a lifeline.  I am tailoring my diet for health, not for a calendar date.

  1. Plan ahead.  Sit down and calculate how many calories are in the food you are likely to eat.  As a grown-up, my family’s Thanksgiving tradition is to hit up the buffet at Royal India.  I know how many calories are in that Tikka Masala, in the samosas, in the lobster curry, the naan—you get the idea.  I figure how much of everything I want to eat, and how many calories I am taking in before I walk through the restaurant door.  Then, I fill my plate accordingly.   AND, I take a small spoonful of everything that looks good to me.
  2. Eat until you are full, then stop.  If something is so delicious you want to keep eating it, take some for later.  Don’t overeat and make yourself sick.
  3. If you do overeat and stuff yourself silly, get over it quickly.  Use your next meal as an opportunity to eat properly.  Don’t deprive yourself because you’ve gone overboard, just continue to eat normally going forward.
  4. Wear something that makes you feel amazing.  The better you feel about the way you look, the less likely you are to abuse the awesomeness of you.
  5. Most important, enjoy the people around you.  The holidays mean lots of great food, but the holidays are about the importance of treating one another well, sharing love, and enjoying life.  Don’t let Great-Aunt Edna get lost in your perusal of the pies.

For me, eating well has a lot to do with sitting down and thinking about what I am eating.  That’s why learning to cook has been so important to me, and why the Personal Chef Approach™ has been invaluable.  When I am aware of what I am putting in my mouth, I am likelier to eat better.

Debbie ReynoldsDebbie Reynolds and me wishing you many festive moments.  And love of your hips

This holiday, though, I am thankful for a body that has all its working parts, all in working order, with all its little and looming imperfections.  It is never going to look like Christy Turlington’s body.  It is never even going to look like 17-year-old Lane’s body again.  But it serves me well, and I keep that in mind every time I take up a serving spoon.

Julie Anne nowadays

Jewels: Lane’s right, at some point we have to make peace with our bodies and accept they are not necessarily (there are the lucky few) going to be what they were in our twenties. I’m not saying to let yourself go, in fact I work much harder to stay fit today than I did back then, but learn to love your curves. My favorite bit of her advice; “Wear something that makes you feel amazing.  The better you feel about the way you look, the less likely you are to abuse the awesomeness of you.” What diet tips, if any, will you employ over the holidays?

Auntie Vera’s Cran-Raspberry Jell-O Mold

This festive cran-raspberry Jell-O mold has been a traditional holiday recipe in my family for generations. You can easily lighten up the calories (and I often do) by using sugarless Jell-O, and light sour cream. If you are taking it to someone else’s house, leave it already set-up, in the mold until you are ready to serve, and keep refrigerated as soon as you get there.

Servings: 12


6 ounce package of raspberry Jell-O
14 ounce can of jellied cranberry (plus I use an extra can for garnish)
2 cups boiling hot water
1 cup ice water
1 cup sour cream


1). Dissolve raspberry Jell-O with the hot water in a large bowl. Add jellied cranberry. Using an electric beater, starting very slowly and building gradually (to keep from splattering the hot liquid everywhere), blend the cranberries into the Jell-O liquid until well blended.

2). Stir in ice water. Once ice has dissolved, blend in the sour cream with the electric blender.

3). Pour mixture into a cranberry mold, or I use a Bundt pan. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight, and can be made a day or two in advance if covered with plastic wrap and kept refrigerated until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions:

When ready to serve, fill a sink 1/4 full with hot water. Dip the bottom of the mold in the hot water for 30 seconds to loosen the cranberry mold, cover with serving platter, and invert onto platter. I like to garnish with extra jellied cranberry.

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  • December 18, 2011
    11:31 am

    add simplistic and devious exercising to the family gathering! it doesn’t have to be a mountain hike- just something that gets the heart rate going and the metabolism working!

    how about challenging your aunts and uncles to a game of Wii tennis? or ping-pong? or air-hockey?

    going outside to sled or have a snowball fight? a long walk that includes carolling? playing tag in the backyard? cousins vs. cousins football game!

    it is easy to add exercise to the day without making it seem like one is “working out”. you’re not going to lose pounds but you will burn off some of those extra calories- all the while building new memories with loved family members!


    • December 18, 2011
      11:42 am

      anyways, that’s my holiday diet tip.

      sometimes, i think we’re too hard on ourselves. we scrimp and save- both money and calories over the year so we can enjoy a few select days during the year.

      let’s not worry too much about it. i like Lane’s tip #5: enjoy the people around you. too many people come and go in our lives all the time: let’s enjoy the moments we have with them.


    • December 18, 2011
      5:42 pm

      I love this tip!

  • December 18, 2011
    11:37 am

    Absolutely brilliant advice, Pamela! Staying active is your best defense against extra calories, and your point that it should be viewed as a fun activity, rather than a work out, is excellent!

    • December 18, 2011
      11:47 am

      It should be more about the family gathering, but you know it’s always about the food as well. And the food tends to be more fattening than an average meal.

      Family gatherings can be stressful for some, and sometimes we stuff our feelings with food, so it’s a good idea to have a plan going into the situation.

      • December 18, 2011
        2:02 pm

        oops. i forgot all about that butter and salt we tend to add to our holiday meals! i’ll definitely have to add a nutrician plan as well as adding some fun exercise! maybe some healthier subsitutions…

        oh Jewels, you’ve totally become “my fairy godmother”!

        not only have you restored lasagna to me- but you’ve inspired me to try foods outside my comfort zone as well.

        i always feel warm and fuzzy after reading this blog. i tend to be a “lurker” but for some reason today’s blog just brought out a lot of great childhood memories…and i felt the need to chat!

  • December 19, 2011
    8:48 am

    So happy you like reading the blog, and decided to chime in this time. LOVE hearing that I am helping expand culinary horizons for you.

  • December 20, 2011
    9:24 am

    To find out there are others in the same boat is always a comfort. Lane, your early experiences sound like a mirror image to mine. Starving, purging, laxatives… what madness…. and it is only slowly getting better in our society. Great tips too on keeping things under control too! My doctor once said that the stress over worrying about a few pounds did more damage than the few pounds. LOVE the photos in this blog too! Stunning ladies and what strikes me is the look of peace and balance in the latest of both of you.

    • December 20, 2011
      9:32 am

      Okay, the dress may wear better in the skinny pic of me, but if you knew how miserable I was – constantly hungry and forever stressed about every morsel that passed my lips! Yes, Rachel, so much happier (and a much nicer person since both my tummy and I have stopped growling).

  • December 20, 2011
    11:20 am

    This is a wonderful post, Lane.

    I lost my mother to anorexia when I was 6 years old. My aunt (my mom’s youngest sister), struggles with it to this day. Their mother was a binger/purger.

    Eating disorders are rampant in my family.

    I was fortunate to be able to eat whatever I wanted up until my mid-twenties.

    Now a forty-something, it’s a constant battle and I was trying a new diet every other week, drops of this, pills of that, you name it.

    Now that I have structure with Jewel’s recipes, menu plans, incredible support system with both her and the wonderful women here in the Jewel’s online world, I am feeling better about myself, adopting better, healthier behavior, and teaching my kids the same.

    Lane, this was an amazing post. I love the pictures of you!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Jewels, although I’ve said in the past that the pic of you in the Jessica Rabbit dress was one of my favorites of you, I much prefer the current photo of you in the black dress. The light you exude is so much more beautiful in the latter pic.

    • December 22, 2011
      9:55 am

      Wow, Jodi – I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. I think we sometimes underestimate the seriousness of eating disorders, and the danger of society placing such emphasis on being thin to win.

      In my book, you’ve won when, as Lane puts it, “This holiday, though, I am thankful for a body that has all its working parts, all in working order, with all its little and looming imperfections, ” and can wear a smile on your face instead of an emaciated hollow stare.

  • December 20, 2011
    8:57 am

    Great post. But I find it hard to believe that is you with Debbie Reynolds (love her). Thank you for sharing your private moments with us. You really seem beautiful on the inside as well as out.

    • December 20, 2011
      9:01 am

      It’s not me, this is a guest post by Lane Buckman (I just did intro and outro on it). Maybe I didn’t make that clear enough?

  • December 20, 2011
    9:06 am

    I updated it Carly, thank you for pointing that out!

    • December 20, 2011
      10:08 am

      My 17 yr old daughter had always been heavy. At age 11 her dad sent her to summer camp to lose weight. She came back a lot less heavier and decided from then on she was going to win the battle over her weight. After much jogging and walking and including the proper amount of water intake (before was like putting a cat into bath water). Now she is 5’6 and a healthy 140. It’s really nice to know my daughter finally has positive self-esteem:)

  • December 20, 2011
    11:12 am

    Girl, that Jessica Rabbit dress is toooo hot.

    My parents have both done well using various iPhone apps to keep track of calories. Much easier than doing it in writing or in your head! Mom’s lost 6 lbs so far — has a few more to go for heart-related reasons.

    • December 22, 2011
      9:48 am

      My best friend’s hubby lost 50lbs this year with that app! Happy holidays Wendy! Sounds like you all may get that white Christmas on the East coast.

  • December 21, 2011
    2:11 pm

    Lane, your post is right on target! You are so right that the PCApproach makes you aware of what you are eating/cooking into a recipe. Consequently, you are more conscious of what a portion actually looks like. My worst memories are of holidays when members of my family would comment on my weight at any part of the day, even at the dinner table. When I did lose a lot of weight at one point, the dinner conversation turned to saying that I was anorexic – I wasn’t. It’s too bad that no one could accept me for the person I was and it’s taken me years to get past this. Now, I’m less than half the weight I was three years ago, which is good except for the fact that illness pulled the weight off. I’m could still stand to lose a few pounds, but I refuse to let this rule my life. At this time of year, I let myself taste things that really appeal to me, I refuse to deny myself a reasonable portion of a treat. My best tip is that you should take the time to eat your meals, don’t skip lunch because you are heading off to a holiday party that evening. A bowl of vegetable soup enjoyed with a plate of chopped up veg & a lite dip will fill you up without causint calorie chaos. I love soup and eat it almost every day. Make your own or use a packet (watch for the sodium content), but know that a vegetable soup will fill you up and help you make it through to the evening without your feeling deprived. There are still people who take pleasure in tracking my weight and I refuse to take part in their game. My weight, my body, my life, is all my business and not up for public discussion. It happened for years at family dinners and if it happens now, I change the subject in a nice way, but won’t buy into how other people feel I should weigh and what I should or should not eat. I listen to my doctor and just like he reminds me “unless someone has the letters MD after their name, don’t listen to them.” And, I agree, Jewels, you look amazing in the black dress – happy and healthy. What more could you ask for? Hugs to you for all the wonderful changes you have brought to my life. You are the sister I really needed all these years. XOXO

  • December 22, 2011
    9:58 am

    Why do we need others to tell us what good common sense already has? I don’t even agree with your doc, Ruthee – the only advice we should listen to is that which our body tells us. If you are in tune with your body – it will tell you it’s unhappy when you bombard it with unhealthy choices, and reward you with peak health when you eat and exercise right.