1. Don’t practice moderation
The holiday season only comes once a year. If you want to eat something, throw caution to the wind. You deserve to treat yourself. It’s been a long year. Don’t worry about gaining weight. You can always address that issue (if it occurs) in the new year.
2. Don’t forget to drink a lot of eggnog
As a rule, because this popular calorie-laden beverage only tends to be available during the holidays, you need to quench your thirst for eggnog when you can. Make sure you drink the high-octane version (i.e., approximately 350 calories per cup). Don’t be a weenie and dilute it with nonfat milk.
3. Don’t stop eating until you’re really full
Never forget that you make your own memories. Why shouldn’t you put an extra pat of butter on your gravy-laden potatoes? What’s more memorable than a great holiday meal, particularly one that makes you feel like you’re going to explode from stuffing yourself?
4. Don’t ever turn down an invitation to attend a holiday party
Parties are a terrific opportunity to show off your social side and celebrate the end of yet another year. The fact that almost all holiday parties tend to feature excessive amounts of high-calorie foodstuffs, as well as unlimited access to alcoholic librations, is a bonus. Bon appétit!
5. Don’t avoid stress during the holidays
You can do it all. Whenever possible, wait until the last minute to shop, decorate, and so on. Cram your schedule as full as you can. Rest is not important. If you get hyper, food and drink are great coping agents.
6. Don’t plan your meal schedule on the day of the big holiday party
If possible, starve yourself until the party so that you’re really hungry when the time comes. Pacing yourself by eating several relatively small meals during the course of the day before you attend the party is not the best way to earn your "I-stuffedmyself-until-I-was-blue-in-the-face" merit badge.
7. Don’t reach for the vegetables on the snack tray
If a higher power didn’t want you to eat fried food, how could you explain the existence of buffalo wings? What could possibly taste better than pigs in a blanket? Don’t potato chips qualify as a vegetable? As long as you eat them a handful at a time, how could salted nuts possibly be bad for you? Who actually thinks that raw veggies are appropriate holiday fare?
8. Don’t be a teetotaler
Not only does alcohol taste great, it also can loosen you up. A few cocktails (particularly fancy ones) before and after a holiday meal can set the stage for a terrific time. In addition, don’t forget about drinking a glass or two of fine wine during the meal itself. Surely liquid calories don’t add up?
9. Don’t deny yourself the pleasures of eating desserts
It’s too hard to resist the delicious desserts that are set out at holiday time. Love pie - top it off with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Prefer cake - don’t forget to get as much icing as you can. Crave holiday cookies - keep them handy so that you can eat them whenever the urge arises.
10. Don’t exercise
You hardly have enough time to do the whole array of festivities that typically occur during that holiday season. Why be physically active when you have more important things to do? The only purposeful movement that makes sense is reaching for more food or another drink. What’s a few extra pounds? You can lose them whenever you want. How hard could that be?
James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.
Copyright 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.