Congratulations! You’ve survived Thanksgiving, hopefully with your waistline relatively unscathed. Now the next challenge awaits you as we head into the next couple weeks devoted to parties and food, food, food. How can you avoid being labeled a party-pooper while staying true to Atkins? In fact, how can you do some entertaining yourself and serve foods your guests will appreciate as much as your waistline does? And finally, how can you still fit in time for your fitness regimen between holiday shopping, gift-wrapping and shipping, a busy social schedule and, oh, yes, a family and a job.
I’m here to tell you it can be done. I’ve been living the Atkins lifestyle for 25 years, so I’ve developed some strategies that work for me, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you. Let’s start with the culinary temptations. One of the great things about Atkins is that eating the low-carb way keeps your blood sugar on an even keel. That means that you aren’t craving sweets or ravenous at meal times—assuming, of course, that you’ve taken our advice to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack in addition to three squares.
Eating and Entertaining
Eat before you eat. Before you hit a holiday lunch or dinner, a party or an office celebration, fortify yourself with a filling Atkins-friendly snack before you go. My favorite snacks are almonds and strawberries, cheddar cheese with some strips of red pepper or, of course, an Atkins Advantage bar or a shake. Or you could a have a small low-carb meal, such as a chef salad topped with grilled chicken. The combination of a small amount of carbs with either fat or protein will stabilize your blood sugar so you don’t arrive famished. That way, you’ll have the physical backup to your mental fortitude so you can pass up holiday foods that are not on your low-carb meal plan.
Give it away. If you receive personal or business gifts that are high in carbs—think cookies, chocolate, fruitcake, flavored popcorn and the like—re-gift them to your child’s school or a homeless shelter. If such gifts arrive at your office, simply put them in a public area like the coffee break room. I guarantee they will disappear fast.
Keep snacks on hand. If your workplace is awash in holiday goodies, it’s all the more important that you stick with your low-carb snacks to keep your appetite under control. If possible, avoid the parts of the office where bowls of candy and plates of cookies beckon. You might even want to talk to the office manager or whoever is responsible for this holiday custom and suggest some healthy alternatives like fresh fruit and nuts.
Hold the booze. When alcoholic beverages are being served, confine yourself to a glass (or two at the most) of wine or one glass of spirits. That’s assuming that you are out of Induction, of course. Just be sure to have your spirits with water or a mixer made without sugar in any form.
Master the buffet. Buffets are actually full of Atkins-friendly options. Stick to the roast turkey, ham, roast beef, salmon filet or other protein
dishes, as well as tossed salads and “foundation vegetables.” If you’re in the later phases of Atkins, have modest portions of sweet potatoes, carrots, or other starchy veggies—or even some whole-grain bread. You may want to sneak in an Endulge bar for your dessert. At sit-down meals, there’s no rule against simply not serving yourself a food you want to stay away from. If your hostess insists, take a small portion, have a tiny taste and leave it at that. No need to announce to the world that you’re doing Atkins and are more virtuous than everyone else!
No matter how “good” you are when it comes to holiday temptations; the reality is that you’ll probably take in a few extra carbs. The best way to deal with that is to get up the next morning and get back on track. The worst thing you can do is wallow in guilt and decide that you’ve blown it and need to wait until after the holidays to get serious about your weight. There’s nothing like some hearty exercise to make you feel good about yourself and help you renew your commitment. Here are some tips for staying fit over the holidays:
Involve the family. Instead of conking out in front of the TV after the holiday feast, take a walk with a family member. While you’re out working off some of the meal, hopefully someone else will take care of the dishes!
Start an “active” tradition. After everyone has opened their presents and had breakfast, suggest a family walk, sledding or ice skating to blow off some steam and deal with the inevitable letdown after weeks of anticipation.
Walk the walk. Take a walk around the neighborhood with a friend (or your dog). You can check out the decorations andget a quick cardio workout.
Give the give of fitness. Wii Fit is lots of fun and keeps you and the kids active even when the weather won’t cooperate.
The bottom line? Atkins is a lifestyle, not a diet. The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends, and yes, some favorite foods. If there isn’t an Atkins-friendly alternative, enjoy a little bit of the real thing, and make sure your next meal or snack is low-carb. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not continuing to lose weight during this time. A true sign of success is maintaining what you’ve already lost while still enjoying food, friends and family. This sets the stage for a healthy year of low-carb living in 2012.
Share and Share Alike
What Atkins-friendly tips do you have for making it through the holidays? I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.