Want to lose holiday weight? Lose the diet first!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, or “How to have your plum pudding and eat it too!”

anne sprenger

Anne Sprenger is a registered dietician working in the eating disorders program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

Right after the holidays there is a noticeable increase in advertising for weight loss programs. This is no doubt an effort to take advantage of the fact that many people will gain an average of seven pounds over the holidays!

Current research shows the whole concept of “dieting” doesn’t really work for anyone to lose weight or even stay at a healthy weight.

According to Psychology Today, about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years. The temporary nature of dieting means it won’t work in the long run. One reason is that cutting out calories changes your metabolism and brain, so your body hoards fat and your mind magnifies food cravings into an obsession.

Dieting raises levels of hormones that stimulate appetite — and lowers levels of hormones that suppress it. For more information about why diets don’t work, click here.

In the true non-diet spirit, follow these recommendations from Anne Sprenger, registered dietician at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

Day 1 (Christmas Day): Throw out every calorie-counting book on the shelf. We know dieting doesn’t work.

Day 2: There is not one food you cannot have today. It is human nature telling ourselves we can’t have something makes us want more. If we eat a forbidden food, we feel guilty. Permission allows us to eat without guilt and to eat less in the long run.

Day 3: Don’t skip breakfast and lunch because you are going out for dinner tonight. You will just set yourself up to overeat the entire evening. If dinner is late, have a snack before you go. Once you are full at dinner, set aside the reset of the food and ask for a “doggie bag” to take home.

Day 4: Take time for yourself by taking a walk. If you don’t have an hour, then 15 minutes will do.

Day 5: Don’t eat those cookies sitting around at work for lunch. Eat a well-balanced lunch containing all the food groups and then see how many of those cookies you really want.

Day 6: While planning that special dinner menu, think of colorful low-fat choices to put with that prime rib you want to serve. Fresh steamed asparagus could replace broccoli with cheese sauce. Other festive options are cauliflower with red & green peppers or lime & raspberry sherbet in schaum torte cups.

Day 7: Pamper yourself with a bubble bath, a long shower or a nap. Often we turn to food as a stress-reliever, when what our body really needs is time to relax and unwind.

Day 8: Happy New Year! Make a resolution this year to take time to take care of yourself-enough time for exercise, enough time for relaxation, and enough time to enjoy food.

Day 9: Don’t suffer with your special once-a-year recipe made with fat-free sour cream. Use the tastier low-fat version that you will enjoy, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking “fat-free is calorie free”. This simply is not true.

Day 10: Go sledding with the kids

Day 11: Go buy some fresh watermelon, fresh berries, or any other non-winter fruit you can find. What a treat!

Day 12: You don’t have to finish all your plum pudding. It will save until tomorrow; you can eat it for breakfast if you like. Once it is gone, cherish the memories of a delightful treat. Or better yet, plan to make it again in July!

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services


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