NEW YORK — The challenge extraordinaire this holiday season involves hanging onto your waistline while all about you are losing theirs to tempting victuals and brews.
The teasing of the waistline by the parade of palate pleasers is a special torment for those with nifty figures gained during many hard months of dieting.
To help such souls, Sybil Ferguson, Diet Center Founder from Rexsburg, Ida., has some suggestions.
Follow them and the diet guru guarantees all you newly thin will be less likely to rejoin the fat of the land over the 12 days of Christmas and all that.
Rather, you will keep your waistline, thigh line, bust line, chin line and all other important anatomical lines as you snake your way through the lavish meals, rich foods and frequent offers of libations and snacks.
The basic strategy, says Ferguson, is to take charge of the season's danger areas: holiday preparations, entertaining and visiting. Her suggestions for each follow.
Holiday preparation tips:
--Examine every aspect of your usual holiday preparation from beginning to end and find ways to cut down and to save energy. Eliminate clutter and strive for calmness. For example, are you willing to throw the usual family New Year's Eve party but not to clean up single-handedly, as usual. Say so. If you can't hire someone to help, and if there are no volunteers, let this be the year you make other plans for New Year's Eve. Unwilling, grudging efforts on your part to run it as usual are not worth making and will leave you frustrated and put upon and "very likely, hungry for some sweet, forbidden food for solace."
--Keep yourself out of temptation's way. Instead of baking or cooking holiday gifts (which you may sample), use the money you'd spend on ingredients to buy needlework or craft gifts. Or donate it to a charity in the names of friends or family.
--Don't cram so much into one day that you end up exhausted.
Holiday entertaining tips:
--Think of entertaining as an opportunity for a festive gathering of friends or family instead of a demonstration of your skill at loading the table with your culinary art. Plan menus carefully, using fresh, low-calorie foods you eat every day to keep your hard-won waistline. Your guests never need know that they are eating more more nutritiously, more healthfully, than they probably will at other holiday parties.
--For entree, consider a chicken or seafood dish instead of ham or prime rib. Include a large, crisp salad. Try fresh fruit with an assortment of cheese for dessert.
--If preparing food tempts you to sample, keep a glass of water nearby. Sip it. Chew sugarless gum. Or even hold a toothpick in your mouth.
"Whatever you do on the day you're going to a cocktail or dinner party, do not starve yourself or try to save up calories so you can eat everything you want," Ferguson said.
"Your blood sugar level will drop, you'll crave food, especially something sweet, and you'll lose control.
"Instead, plan ahead as best you can. Make an educated guess as to what will be served, or, if your hostess is a good friend who understands your weight problem, simply ask. Know ahead of time--tell yourself over and over--only you will decide how much you will eat.
"You will be in control!"
--Have an appetite appeaser before leaving home, especially if food will be served later than your regular eating hour. An apple and a large glass of water will do.
--Arrive late for a dinner party.
--At cocktail parties, if you have a drink of wine or liquor, skip the hors d'oeuvres. Your calories will be in the glass.
--Don't hang around the hors d'oeuvres table. Latch onto an interesting person. Strike up a stimulating conversation.
P.S. Ferguson says one of the most important pieces of advice she gives for the holidays is "act happy." "To act happy is to be happy," she says. "If you're dieting or carefully watching your food intake, don't allow yourself to look, sound or feel as if you are being deprived."