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If Thanksgiving Was Just One Day

Posted Nov 22 2013 6:18am

holiday eating fest

I did a talk yesterday about healthy holiday eating and I told the group this:

If we treated Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, as just one day, then a big meal wouldn’t ruin your weight management plan in the least. After all, if a holiday meal were just a single event, it would be nearly impossible to permanently gain weight from a single meal. IF you eat healthy the rest of the time.

But the truth is that for a lot of people who struggle with their weight, it is very difficult to treat Thanksgiving (or any other holiday) as just a day. Instead we treat Thanksgiving as the beginning of what I like to term “The Holiday Eating Fest.”

In fact, I generally started the “Holiday Eating Fest” around Halloween when the stores began to stock Halloween candy. I found it very difficult to resist buying (and eating) the candy that was predominantly displayed. And I wasn’t buying it to pass out to kids, I was buying it for myself.

After Halloween passed, the stores put up those convenient “Baking Centers” where they made it easy to pick up a few bags of chocolate chips, a cake mix or two, brownie mixes, speciality holiday baking ingredients, and other such junk.

Here’s a picture I took at our local Wal-Mart of the baking center  placed strategically in the center of the main aisle where it is impossible to miss:

Wal-Mart Baking Section

I think the only redeeming foods on that display were the plain pumpkin pie filling, nuts, and raisins. The rest of it was non-essential food items.

And then, in addition to the Thanksgiving/Christmas baking centers there is the candy aisle. Here’s a picture of the candy aisle.

Candy in a store

And that candy aisle is in addition to the one further up the store. No wonder it is hard to get out of the grocery store without some junk in the cart. 

Now you see why I call the time after Halloween the “Holiday Eating Fest.”

Between the food tempting us in the stores, the office parties, the holiday parties, the school productions complete with cupcakes as big as your head, and the actual holiday itself, many of us find it hard to stay on our weight loss plan or even maintain the weight we have already lost.

I know I did. I thought of the Thanksgiving holiday as open eating season and that got me in trouble year-after-year-after-year. Instead of gaining just a few pounds, which would have been bad enough, I often put on 10 pounds or more during the Holiday Eating Fest. And then I never lost it.

It can be really hard to resist all these temptations when shopping or attending holiday events. But you must learn how to handle the temptations because holidays keep coming whether you are at your goal weight or not.

I lost about 20 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day the year I lost my 150 pounds. I finally realized that treating the end-of-the-year holidays as one big eating fest was detrimental to my health and not good for my weight loss efforts. I made a concerted effort to change my shopping habits , say no to foods I did not need , and change my attitude toward exercise.

Was it easy? Of course not. Those candy aisles didn’t magically stop calling my name. The baking centers still held an allure to me because I like to cook . But the lure of living life at a healthy weight and continuing to lose weight was stronger than all that temptation.

I constantly reminded myself of the goals I had for myself and how far I had come. No piece of pie or candy was worth taking a step back.

If Thanksgiving were just a single meal this time of year would be relatively easy to sail through without ruining your weight loss efforts. Perhaps if you do start thinking of Thanksgiving as just one meal to enjoy in moderation and try to focus less on all the foods that are available all the other days, you will find it easier to navigate your weight loss plan successfully.

How do you handle this time of year? Do you wish Thanksgiving really was just a single nice meal and not associated with the beginning of the Holiday Eating Fest? Diane

Image courtesy of apolonia /

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