Christmas Survival Guide

Holidays revolve around food and family, but Christmas actually has its roots in a feast. December 25 officially became the day for Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus around the fifth century, but the Romans held winter festivities and feasts around that time, including the "Yule" holiday, which involved setting large fires. The traditions merged as time passed, bringing us the Yule log and the special importance placed on food.

Christmas is a time of joy and family celebration. Many of our favorite memories come from time spent with Mom baking holiday cookies or making gingerbread houses. Although Christmas represents serious temptation for a dieter, following these tips will help you succeed instead of "starting over" after the New Year.

Holiday Parties
If you don't eat Aunt Ethel's cookies, you feel rude…but you know just looking at them puts a pound on each thigh!
  • Make sure you grab a quick snack before the party starts, so you won't feel famished.
  • Decide ahead of time how many cookies you're going to have. Make up for the extra calories through the rest of the day—eat an open-face sandwich with only one piece of bread and have some salsa on your baked potato instead of sour cream and butter.
  • Make your own healthy foods to bring to the party. At least you'll know there is something there that won’t blow your diet.
Ah, the annual office party. Politics are everywhere and you know that you have to eat everyone's dessert to ensure the friendship through the next year.
  • To get around it, volunteer to be a judge of this year's dessert contest. Judges have just one bit of each treat before deciding which is best. Not willing to judge? Take one spoonful instead of a full piece.

Around this time of year, everyone invites you to lunch—friends, family, co-workers. From heavy Italian sauces to tacos, you know your diet is going to go downhill before you walk in.
  • Stay away from anything that says: Creamy, Crispy, or Fried. Order your sauces on the side and ask for a box before your meal begins. Put half of the meal into the box before you start eating. That way, you can still be a part of the clean plate club without overdoing it.
Get Moving 
When you’re busy wrapping gifts, last minute shopping, cooking, entertaining—and don't forget about the party hopping—your exercise routine…well, what exercise routine? Try something new with your family and friends this year—get outside and be active. It's fun, it's festive, and it's a great calorie burner.
  • Winter brings unique exercise opportunities that you can’t experience any other time of year. From ice skating to snow skiing, there are calorie-burning opportunities everywhere you turn!
  • Burn 84 calories ice skating for 10 minutes. Burn 96 calories playing hockey for the same amount of time.
  • Cross-Country skiing is one of the best all-around exercises out there. Burn 96 calories in 10 minutes while working both your upper and lower body. Downhill skiing burns 72 calories.
  • Using a snow blower burns 54 calories in 10 minutes while shoveling snow burns 72.
  • Another great winter exercise is Snow Shoeing. You can burn 96 calories in 10 minutes. This is also a great wintertime activity for expecting mothers because there is a low risk of falling compared to skiing.
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Member Comments

I find it simple, I don't observe the holiday, no parties, no excess or special food, no candy, no cookies, no tree, no nothing. NO STRESS! Report
Thanks, great tips! Report
Great article. I love burning calories. Shoveling snow is great. I did alot the beginning of the year. I will not be doing too much this year. Report
Remember that we don't all live in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas comes in summer for half of the world - so perhaps think about examples and ideas for the other half of us, too? Snowshoeing just isn't going to cut it in beach weather! Report
i look over all food and allow myself only one not within my calorie range i eat very slowly and savor every bite after all it is christmas and that is only time this dessert is made Report
Another tip: If you are eating out with someone else, split an entree, an appetizer, and/or a dessert.

By the way, it wasn't just the Romans who celebrated winter festivals. There were solstice celebrations all over Europe, the near East, and Northern Africa (at least) thousands of years before the historical Jesus was ever born. December 25 was the tradtional birthday of Mithros, a Roman sun god. When Emporer Constantine decided, in the early 4th centery BCE, that Christianity would become the official religion of the Roman empire, the empire took over MANY pagan feast days, as well as many of the traditional ways to celebrate them as they were forcing their subjugated societies to become Christian. After all, it's easier to let people celebrate on the dates and in the ways they've always celebrated, and just change the names, than it is to get people to give up or significantly change their festivals. Also, Yule is not Roman. Yuletide, and the Yule Log, as well as other Yule traditions, originated with the historic Germanic peoples, who spread throughout much of Europe. The Francs, who ended up in France, as well as the Angles and Saxons, who ended up in England, were all Germanic tribes originally. Report
These guidelines are easy to follow and hard to forget. (I hope) Thanks for the good ideas Report
Great tips. I shared this one on my Facebook it was so good. Report
Boy oh boy do I wish there was snow in Oakland right now. Report
Boy oh boy do I wish there was snow in Oakland right now. Report
Boy oh boy do I wish there was snow in Oakland right now. Report
Another solution is to say "I'm in training" when resisting food. It feels like people around me (especially my guy friends) seem to take that better than saying I'm on a diet. And although I'm technically training for race season for cycling, you could be "in training" for anything! They don't have to know! Report
I am a very picky eater and always say no to food because i don't eat the 'traditional' meals. But when I can't just get away with that, faking an "allergy" is the best option (i know a bit cruel, but i manage to get out "safe").
And yes, winter sports are awesome even if you just play with your significant other or kids in the snow :) Report
I thought the tip of getting a box before your meal starts was a good idea! Puts the food out of sight and out of mind! Report
If you mentally PRACTICE saying no thank you and passing up foods that you've chosen ahead of time not to indulge on, it makes the actual party easier - you're just re-enacting the scene you've played in your head many times already. Report


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