Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Treats--Yeeks!

Week Four
Christmas Treats—Yeeks!

Thanksgiving is behind me. I’ve indulged, bulged, and now I’m back on track. Until I start my holiday baking, that is. Making treats to give as gifts is a holiday tradition, which once started, is as difficult to get rid of as a yeast infection.
            For more than twenty years I’ve made candy to box up and give as gifts to friends and relatives. Everyone loves my fudge. Unfortunately, so does the cook. Over the years I’ve at least cut down to making only two varieties. But two or twenty, the dilemma is the same; how do I keep from stuffing my wares into my greedy mouth?
            When Terry and I each had our own houses, I shipped it to his garage in sealed containers until I was ready to box it up and pass the candy on. Keeping it in my attached garage now, makes it just too darn accessible.
            And everywhere I go, the goodies are out, even at the library and the bank. A few bites here and there, and I’ve upped my daily calorie allotment to code red. I’ve had to wrack my sugar-drenched brain to come up with a few useful suggestions.
Here goes.
1.     Pass up public goody trays by forming a mental picture of the unsanitary conditions surrounding them. Think about people sneezing on them, children handling each one before deciding, and how long they sit out, exposed to who knows how many dastardly germs and menacing viruses.
2.     No one has the time or the inclination to write out a food plan for every day, but have a mental plan and stick to it. Plan to allow yourself two or three of your homemade treats after supper, and keep that in mind when you walk past the cookie trays on display wherever you go.
3.     If you are making treats, box them for gift giving as quickly as possible. This includes a gift tag with the receiver’s name. I find that if I do this, it keeps my fingers out of them. Then store them with a neighbor!
4.     When baking cookies, make everyone else’s favorites and avoid your own.  If that’s impossible, then allot yourself a few after dinner. I find that allowing myself that small indulgence keeps me from pilfering the gift boxes every time I walk into the garage.

Celebrate the season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Week Three – Preparing for Thanksgiving

            Unless you’re stranded on a desert island, being held prisoner in Myanmar, or have accidently locked yourself in your storage locker, you’ll be stuffing yourself on the big day. The trick is to give yourself permission to do that without eating more and more every day leading up to it as if you were training for an Olympic event. Not as simple as it sounds. What is simple is your devious brain telling you, “Go ahead. You’ll be overeating on Thursday anyway, may as well eat whatever you want until then.
Sound familiar?
            Use your brain to help you, not sabotage you. Try to remain aware of your eating habits. Don’t starve yourself. Eat sensibly. And get enough sleep! Sound strange? Then you’ve never noticed how much more susceptible you are to food urges on days that you’re exhausted. Someone asked me last week what I meant when I said be gentle with yourself—getting enough sleep is one of the ways to be good to yourself
I came back from my trip to Iowa having overindulged. I must thank you for letting me digress on my own weight problem; the process of writing about it is helping me to stay on track.
My tips for this week are for those of you, and myself, who are going to be doing the cooking on Thanksgiving, not only for the guests. Cooking is an enormous task, requiring more that one tip!
1.                    If your family and friends are used to having appetizers, prepare the kind you can pass up. For me, that means putting out herring, a shrimp plate and stuffed mushroom. I know, it’s really weird not to like those things, but I’m a picky eater except when it comes to junk food. So no chips, cheese, or mixed nuts on my coffee table.
2.                    Have on hand a supply of disposable plastic containers for leftovers. Send the tempting, high-calorie items home with your guests and don’t take no for an answer. This will require determined assertiveness on your part when they all protest. (And they will.) Be firm.
3.                    Again, indulge only in your favorites and pass up the other dozen side dishes. I’ve practiced this one for a couple years now, and believe me, I’ve never been reprimanded by the hostess since I so obviously am enjoying what I’m eating.
Remember, Thanksgiving is one day out of three hundred sixty-five. The free pass you give yourself to eat the things you love on that day is good for one day only.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Ten Pounds of Christmas - Week Two

It’s ten days before Thanksgiving, the Halloween candy is gone, and my good jeans are already snug. Yikes! I even have pre-holiday expansion! I need a plan if I’m going to avoid the “Ten Pounds of Christmas” this year.
            I’m going to be the one cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Does that mean I control the menu? Hilarious. No, you know how it goes. The cook is always obligated to produce everyone’s favorites, including at least two different kinds of pie for dessert.
            And before I even get to the holiday hurdle, I have a trip to Iowa this week—which means eating out, eating on the road, and a long boring drive. Why is it I can never stop at a convenience store for gas without leaving with a bag of chips in my hand or a doughnut or two to go with my coffee?
            I’ve developed a strategy: I’ll pack a cooler with sensible snacks, like yogurt and granola bars. No guarantee with this method of subterfuge, but sometimes it works! If I can stick to it it’ll allow me to indulge when I go out to dinner. And why is it, when we dine out, we ingest every morsel, even when the food we’re served isn’t something we are truly enjoying? I vow right now, that I’ll only eat the things I’m served that are excellent. I’ve never bought into the whole theory of leaving a bite of everything on your plate. But leaving half or more of something that is so-so? Should be doable.
            It’s really all about awareness, choices, and stopping when I’m comfortably full, instead of gasping for air!

Tip #2
Pre-Thanksgiving. Don’t try to program yourself to eat less on the big day—it won’t work. Your subconscious will rebel and you’ll stuff yourself every day leading up to Turkey Day.
Instead, tell yourself you’ll enjoy eating whatever you want that day, but will pass up anything on the buffet that doesn’t appeal to you. The hostess can enjoy the leftovers. Once you give yourself that mental green light, you’ll be able to eat lightly (not fasting or dieting) the week before the holiday.
Be gentle with yourself.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ten Pounds of Christmas

The Ten Pounds of Christmas

            I gain ten pounds every year at Christmas.
How is that possible? It’s easy. I start in October. Then I struggle to take off my “Christmas fat” in January and February.
            This shameful acquisition of the bulge begins in October with Halloween candy. (And I don’t have small children to blame its presence on.) Any candy that comes into this house during October is for yours truly. Terry, my significant other, may snatch a piece or two, but he’s not haunted by the same carb addiction as myself. October is candy month. Then there’s the snacking during football games—it’s an annual ritual—the home team couldn’t win if I weren’t encouraging them with the cheers of my crunching.
            Everyone knows what happens in November. In November I vow that I will NOT gain weight over the holidays this year. But, having made that vow, the terror of holiday goodie deprivation niggles at me. The only cure for this tweak of conscience is—guess what—you’ve got it—a bowl of buttered popcorn and the last of the Halloween candy.
            Then comes the mother of all eating events, Thanksgiving. It would be a sin to diet on Thanksgiving, wouldn’t it? How else would I show my thankfulness except by indulging in everything the buffet has to offer? Someone went to a lot of trouble to cook all that goodness; it would be rude to pass it up.
            I hardly need to remind you what December brings. But I will: parties, Christmas cookies on display everywhere you go, gifts of home made treats, boxes of fudge and chocolates . . . the list goes on.
            I’m not sure January would be the same without digging out my “fat” clothes, bemoaning my food transgressions of the previous ten weeks, and joining Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time. It’s all part of the post-holiday depression syndrome, that and the drifts of snow that nearly cover our west-facing windows.
Without the challenge of dropping our Christmas fat, the big diet agencies would lose millions, possibly resulting in another stock market crash. We wouldn’t want that would we? We have to protect our 401k’s.
So pass the potato chips and make mine kettle-fried. I’ll lose weight tomorrow.

Note from the author:
This blog on the holiday weight gaining dilemma will be continued weekly. Each week I’ll add a new tip on how to buck the weight gain.
Tip #1  Dealing with leftover Halloween candy
I turn it over to Terry, he locks it up in the garage, and only gives me two pieces a day, no matter how many I ask for. If you don’t have someone to hold your candy for you in a homemade Fort Knox, throw it out. But make sure it’s in the garbage with something disgusting enough to prevent retrieving it in a moment of mad craving!