How You and Your Atkins Lifestyle Can Survive the Holidays

Itís that time of year again when the joys of the holidays can be mixed with apprehension.

How many of you remember years past when food and drink got the best of you and it took months to get back on track? It neednít be that way.

Most of us have embraced the concept that a diet is short term-- a lifestyle lasts forever. But to permanently and successfully adopt a lifestyle change you need to learn how to cope with the many stresses, social events, and the eating and drinking opportunities you are exposed to this time of year.

If you donít learn new ways to cope, youíll likely repeat the same pattern that sabotaged you in years past.

Hereíre a few strategies you can adopt now so when the New Year comes along you wonít need to find a larger size and can be free of the guilt trip you have taken in the past.

Donít Be Obsessive

Be realistic. No one can be 100 percent 100 percent of the time. However, that doesnít mean you should feel free to abandon your program on a regular basis.

If you plan on momentarily straying from your Atkins path without getting lost, you need to learn how to ďcheatĒ appropriately. This means accepting less than 100 percent perfection without surrendering to feelings of guilt or failure. This is especially important for stress eaters who use food to try to cope with negative emotions. Negotiating the ďgray areasĒ can be difficult, but once you know how, you are much better able to lose weight and keep it off.

Pick the Right Time

If youíre just starting the program and are on Induction this is not the time to plan cheats. In the early stages of this new way of eating you are establishing good eating patterns and correcting your unstable chemistry that leads to hunger and cravings. You are vulnerable for the first few weeks. Cheating before you have become secure with your new way of eating could make it difficult to resume, to say nothing of re-establishing your addictions.

Change Your Goal

If you have been doing well on your Atkins Lifestyle it is ok to temporarily change your goal from continuing to lose weight. Instead, aim to maintain your weight and stay in control of your food choices. This will allow you to temporarily liberalize your diet by experimenting with higher carbs as long as they are still healthy foods. However, be advised that this is not a good option if you intend to return regularly to an intake of foods with added sugars and refined carbs. You will only re-establish your addictions and lose control. This is also not a good idea if you have medical issues such as diabetes, etc. that will worsen with a more liberal program.

By liberalizing the plan for a short time over the holidays youíll have an opportunity to experiment with learning the all important Lifetime Maintenance phase of Atkins.

Resume your weight loss efforts 100% no matter what on January 2.

Be Picky

Not every special occasion merits cheating. Taking too many liberties will not get you to your goal. Make sure your planned indulgence is well worth it and make sure that you really, really want itónot just in the abstract, but at the moment the food is in front of you. Sure, Grandmaís potato pancakes only appear once a year, but when the platter comes your way, do you honestly feel like you canít pass them up?

Take advantage of the many low-carb recipes available in books and the Internet. They can help you find workable alternatives to some favorite holiday foods so you can more easily maintain your weight and still participate in the warmth of sharing holiday meals with family and friends.

Give Yourself a Cushion

If thereís a special occasion on the horizon, consider dropping down to a lower phase of Atkins for a bit before that occasion. Adhering more strictly to the plan will help you feel more in control and perhaps help you lose a few more pounds. By the time the event rolls around, you can have a generous margin of error in case you do wind up overindulging.

Donít Go Whole Hog

Learn that you can deviate intelligently without reinforcing your old habits. Letís say youíre dining in a restaurant known for its spectacular desserts. If you must have that double chocolate mousse then vow to avoid the bread and all other high carb foods. Keep to an nduction-type meal. Better yet, share that dessert rather than eat it all. Even though you have deviated by having dessert, youíre not reinforcing old habits and youíre still in control.

Get Back on Track Fast

Decide in advance how long you intend to stray from your usual program. Resume it the minute that time frame expires. For example, if youíre someone whose intention was to be off of your program for Thanksgiving dinner only, yet by the following Monday you found yourself munching on leftovers, this is another opportunity to learn that you can keep your word to yourself.

Choose the Lesser of Evils

Not every indulgence needs to be a blowout. If an orange will satisfy youíre sweet craving, itís better than cookies. Reach for an extra helping of allowable foods such as cheese, vegetables, or salad before ordering a bowl of pasta.

Get Back in the Saddle

Are you having trouble getting back on the program? Have you gained a few? Craving carbs again? Resume your supplements and exercise program even if youíre still sloppy with your foods. By taking control back with these habits, you can then put your full attention to making better food choices. Both supplements and exercise will help support your body after your dietary indiscretions.

Go back to square one. If you have gained more than a pound or two or have re-established your addictions resume Induction. Clean out all inappropriate food in your house, stock up with what you need and be as committed as you were at the start. It is very helpful to re-read Dr. Atkinsí New Diet Revolution to get back in the mind-set of success.

Learn from Experience

If youíve lost control of food choices, you may feel like you have failed. The positive spin is that you have probably learned something. What made you lose control? How might you deal with that same situation in the future? If you have learned more about yourself and your food issues that can help you succeed in the future, than you havenít failed. Failure is a choice. If you choose to resume the program, youíre choosing success.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year.


Jacqueline Eberstein


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The information presented on this site is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment. This information should be used in conjunction with the guidance and care of your physician. Consult your physician before beginning this program as you would any weight-loss or weight-maintenance program.  Those of you on diuretics or diabetes medication should proceed only under a doctorís supervision as changing your diet usually requires a change in medication dosages. As with any plan, the weight-loss phases of this program should not be used by patients on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women. As with any weight-loss plan, we recommend anyone under the age of 18 follow the program under the guidance of their physician.