By Dr. Keith Sheehan

December 18, 2019

​​​​​​​Most of my patients tell me that sticking to a diet during the holiday season is difficult to them; they gain weight, and usually get sick. Here we are…Christmas is already next week…I know this blog is a little late, but better late than never. That being said, here are five ways to actually get healthier during the holiday season, And to start the new year off on a positive note.

1. If you get off your diet because of a party or family get together, get back on it as soon as possible.

I have a lot of people tell me “around the holidays, I don’t even try“. That is what we call a negative, defeatist attitude. Listen, just because you get off your diet, doesn’t mean you can’t get back on. Remember, none of us are perfect, and success at a diet doesn’t mean perfect all the time. It means that all you have to do is get back on your diet one more time than going off your diet, to be successful.

2. Keep a diet log, even if you are “bad”.

Nothing makes us get back on your diet quicker than actually recording each and everything that we eat. And nothing helps us change how we eat and change our patterns better than confronting them by writing them down. I’ll agree, the first time can be painful, but every time you write down what you eat, it gets easier and easier. In our office, we use diet logs to record what we eat, however, you can use any old notebook to do it. Just make sure that you are consistent. Here is a link to a diet I recommend frequently in the office.

3. Make sure you eat before you go to a party.

Just like food shopping when you’re hungry, going to a party or get-together when you’re hungry is a recipe for disaster. I know when I’m hungry, my willpower is at an all-time low. Conversely, when I’m full of healthy food, my blood sugar is stable, and I’m not tempted nearly as easily. Make sure that in the pre-party or get together meal you eat plenty of healthy protein and fat. They will help you stabilize your blood sugar longer, balance your neurotransmitters, and help you resist temptation.

4. If you’re at a party or family get together, make sure to load up on veggies and protein first.

It’s really hard to overeat protein and vegetables, as your body has a natural shut off mechanism from eating too much of these foods. You will be less tempted to eat junkier foods afterward. So, go for the meatballs and carrot sticks first and you might not even be tempted at the dessert table.

5. If you fall off your diet, don’t beat yourself up.

Just keep writing down what you’re eating and get back on your diet as soon as possible. Self-judgment not only feels terrible but actually sets in effect a negative feedback loop where we don’t want to even try to diet, because when we fail, we judge ourselves. While I’ll admit that it’s hard not to judge ourselves when we fail to meet our expectations, it’s a practice. The more you forgive yourself, the more likely you are to forgive yourself and gently get back on track in the future. Just like any sport, hobby, or really anything, the more you practice, the better you become at it.

There you have it, my top five ways to stick to your health plan over the holidays. Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) and a Happy New Year!