eat sign - neonEver notice how we’re constantly bombarded by billboards, ads and signs inviting us to eat 24/7? Food tastes good. It’s pleasurable, and it’s everywhere, especially during the holidays. No wonder so many Americans struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

The holiday season is especially tricky to navigate, because not only is party fare plentiful, but we anticipate one of the most common New Year’s resolutions: lose weight and get in shape. Psychologically, when we sense an upcoming time of deprivation, we tend to adopt a “last supper” mindset, resulting in over-indulgence. After we push our belts forward a holiday notch, the January diet mongers come knocking, with tempting weight control measures.

My advice: walk away.

After 30+ years in the dietetics profession, I promise you that dieting leads to unhealthy relationships with food. F-A-T is not a four letter word, D-I-E-T is.

This holiday season, let’s borrow a tip from the Japanese. Those living in Okinawa practice one of THE secrets to longevity: eating less. “Hara Hachi Bu” describes the practice of eating until we are only 80 percent full, enabling us to enjoy food while avoiding unwanted weight gain. While our own national dietary guidelines avoid “eat less” messages , practicing moderation through Hara Hachi Bu allows us to enjoy those scrumptious holiday dishes without trading quality ingredients for lower calorie, less tasty alternatives.

Check out the Japanese dietary guidelines. Their unique recommendations fit our holiday season perfectly:

  • Have delicious and healthy meals that are good for your mind and body
  • Enjoy communication at the table with your family and/or other people and participate in the preparation of meals
  • Respect your dietary culture
  • Enjoy nature’s bounty and the changing seasons by using local food products and ingredients in season, and by enjoying holiday and special-occasion dishes.

When January rolls around, remember this tip from the Japanese: “Good health is essential to beauty. Do not attempt to lose too much weight.”
Do you have any secrets for avoiding overindulgence during the holiday season? Share your tips with readers in the comments below.