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Family Matters

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Linda Mintle, Ph.D. is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author of 16 books, a national expert on family issues and the psychology of food and weight. She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, a national speaker, writer, and news contributor.

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Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Tips to Get Back on Track


The gift baskets are finally empty, the Christmas cookies almost gone and the plethora of candies, hot chocolate and goodies finally consumed. My pantry and freezer are starting to look normal again. But like you, I consumed too many treats and feel the new snug fit of my pants.

So it’s time to re-engage in sensible eating and get moving at the gym. As a weight loss expert, I know that so much of losing weight is won in the mind. And the easiest thing to do after a holiday is to give in to negative thinking. Many of us think, “Oh well, I might as well give up. I’ll never get this weight off.”

Don’t go there! Pace yourself when it comes to the leftovers and goodies that remain in the house. Tell yourself, “I can have a treat each day, but it needs to be a small portion.” This way, you don’t deprive yourself. Feelings of deprivation are what often lead to overeating.

When you feel the guilt of overeating, keep in mind that most of us gain about a pound over the holidays. And while most of us don’t welcome that one pound, a pound can be lost by making a few easy changes.

Here are 10 tips to help you get back on track:

1) Weigh yourself regularly.

Sounds counter intuitive, but it is not. People who weigh regularly don’t allow that extra five pounds to build up. The exception to this would be if you have an eating disorder. For someone with an eating disorder, weighing regularly is part of the obsession and not recommended. 

2) Control your portions.

How much you eat is as important as what you eat. So watch your portions and stop having second helpings.

3) Keep tabs on snacking.

Snacking can add more calories than you think if you are constantly grabbing a little here and there.

4) Keep tempting food out of sight.

It’s true, out of sight, out of mind. The sight and smell of food are visual cues to eat.

5) Limit the variety.

The more variety of foods available, the more we overeat. Buffets are great examples. If you take a little of everything on a buffet, you have a lot of food. If you place multi-colored M&Ms in a bowl, you will eat more than if the M&Ms were one color. 

6) Be patient.

Quick weight loss is not the goal. Cut back and by the end of the month, that pound will be gone.

7) Know your triggers for overeating.

Most overeating is done in response to our moods. Don’t eat when you are happy, bored, tired, sad, or other emotions. Avoid mindless eating. Don’t use food to relax or for comfort. Eat to enjoy a meal and because you are hungry.

8) Lose the guilt.

There are many great foods during the holidays and so if you indulged, work now to get that pound off. The deed is done. Guilt serves no purpose.

9) Stay positive.

A positive attitude goes a long way when it comes to behavior change. Be your own coach and tell yourself you can do this with God’s help.

10) Engage in spiritual disciplines.

The way you stay strong is to be in communion with God, pray and read the Bible to encourage and empower you. Eat spiritual food to help control the urges to eat physical food. 


Dr. Linda Mintle is the author of Press Pause Before You Eat: Say Goodbye to Mindless Eating and Hello to the Joy of Eating. The book is filled with practical tips on how to develop a healthy relationship with food and be in control of your eating habits.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:27 PM

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