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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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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