By Cari Wira Dineen
We all know that the holiday season can be a healthy-eating minefield. But it’s not necessarily just because of the festive drinks and fattening apps. Friends and family members can also wreck your diet efforts—intentionally or unintentionally.
Most of the time, they mean well, says Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.”Often, they’re trying to show their love through food, as many families do,” she points out.
On the other hand, not everyone has good intentions. “Some people attempt to push food to alleviate their own guilt: If she’s eating it, then it’s okay if I do, too,” Albers says. “Or it may be jealousy—your friend may be a little envious that you look great in your holiday dress.” Shut down common diet sabotaging comments with these comeback strategies from Albers.
The Saboteur Says: “You’ve got to try this! It tastes amazing. Really, eat it.”
Shut It Down: “It looks amazing, but no thanks!” Remember that it’s okay to simply say no with confidence. Don’t apologize or offer an explanation. Practice saying no assertively and firmly before the party if you need to.
The Saboteur Says: “I made my coconut custard pie just for you. I know how much you love it.”
Shut It Down: Appreciate the effort by accepting a gift—even one of food—graciously. Ask to take it home since you are so full—and then regift it.
The Saboteur Says: “I’m going to box up these leftovers for you.”
Shut It Down: Use humor by saying something like, “I’m so stuffed, pretty soon you’re going to mistake me for the turkey!” Or tell your host that your refrigerator is packed; everyone can visualize a full fridge that doesn’t have room for leftovers.
The Saboteur Says: “Why do you even bother dieting during the holidays?”
Shut It Down: “You’re right. Dieting during the holidays is a recipe for disaster. I’m eating mindfully—watching what I eat so I don’t overeat and gain the two pounds that research says most people put on during the holidays.” Agreeing with your critic or starting out with the words “you are right” helps to take out the emotional struggle. And throwing out research makes your comeback grounded and smart.
The Saboteur Says: “One drink can’t hurt, right?”
Shut It Down: Actually, maybe your friend is right—one cup of spiked coffee isn’t going to kill you or your diet. And neither will one cookie. So choose your one indulgence and decline the rest. Say something like, “Thanks, but that drink has as many calories as a piece of pecan pie—and I’d rather eat the pie!”