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Winter blues

By Sonia Salfity - Jan 03,2021 - Last updated at Jan 03,2021

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

As if it hasn’t been hard enough to manage our weight during quarantine and try to stop ourselves from stress-eating, we now have holiday temptations to add onto our plate, no pun intended!

Holiday eating usually means weight gain for most of us. Whether you’re doing the inviting or you’re the one being invited, you’re sure to eat more than your body needs for nourishment. In either case, we’d better have a plan or else plan to fail. 


‘If you can’t name it, you can’t claim it!’


Colder weather doesn’t help our case as it means less opportunity to walk outdoors. Add our desire to warm up by grabbing more comfort foods and you can easily go down that slippery slope in the winter months. 

As bleak as the prospect appears, I’m determined not to lose hope. It can be done if we put our minds to it and want it badly enough. But what is it that we want? A smaller waist? A stronger body? More energy? Lower blood sugar? It is essential to name what we want to achieve before we can even dream of attaining it. If you can’t name it, you can’t claim it! 

At the top of our list, let’s give a name to our motivation. The stronger the reason, the better chance we will stick to our routine of healthier eating for the long haul. This is not a short sprint. Losing a kilogramme here and there only to gain it back next month is not the yoyo dieting we aspire to. What we want is a lasting success that translates into real-life changes, whether it’s in our eating habits or exercise regimen. We want something that is sustainable and liveable. 

So if you were expecting a quick crash diet, I’m sorry to disappoint you as you won’t find it here with this desperate dieter. But if you’re willing to do the hard work of committing yourself to long-lasting solutions that will serve you well after Christmas, ‘Eid or the next birthday party, then welcome aboard!


Defensive strategies


Here are some defensive strategies that can serve us well as our shield and armour in our fight against the battle of the bulge.


Water, water, water


I start my day with it and drink a tall glass before every meal. Please don’t hate me when I have to run to the restroom, though! That’s a small price to pay compared to the benefits I reap by making this one simple change. I know you’re sick of hearing it, but seriously, drink those eight glasses a day and see how your hunger stays at bay!


Fibre, fibre, fibre


Face it, none of us got to be desperate dieters by eating too many veggies! As much as we try to avoid them, we have to remember what good friends they make. They’re loyal and faithful and help us stay full for very few calories. Not to mention their essential role in preventing cancers and other illnesses. I make fibre-rich food a daily staple in my household for the entire family, especially since I want to prevent my children from ending up as desperate dieters, too.


Move, move, move


Staying active is a must and there’s just no getting around this one! Motion is lotion for our joints and everything runs smoother when we don’t lead sedentary lives. I make it a point to be intentional about getting my exercise no matter the weather. Winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s always something one can do to stay active through it all.


Let’s stop thinking about food


The more I think about food, the hungrier I get! Staying distracted is key to keeping my mind from obsessing about food. Reading a good book, calling a friend, going for a walk or taking a calming shower help distract me when food cravings demand my undivided attention. Instead of giving into them, like a mother giving in to her toddler’s tantrums, I discipline my cravings by learning to say “No”. “No” doesn’t mean “maybe”. This is what I say in my inner dialogue when I’m secretly trying to justify why it’s okay to eat this treat “just this one time”, which leads me to the next point.


Kiss all excuses goodbye! 


We desperate dieters have become very talented at justifying our behaviour. Isn’t this is how we got to be ‘Desperate Dieters’? One justification after another. One excuse after another. 

Add those up and what do we get? A slippery slope that keeps going downhill. Excuses like, “Well, it’s a holiday and we have to celebrate!” or “My mother made my favourite cake and it will offend her if I don’t eat from it!”

I’ve made a list of all the excuses I tend to make and practice saying, “No, thank you” to myself and any food pushers in my circle. I don’t owe them an explanation. It’s my life, my health. If they get upset or offended, that’s their problem, not mine. The universe will not collapse if we start voicing our needs and fight for what we really need. I don’t know about you but I need a whole lot of things and extra sugar is not one of them!


Simplify life!


Remember those excuses you just kissed goodbye? Let’s not invite them back! If you’re anything like the rest of us desperate dieters, then you know exactly what I mean. We surrender our weaknesses only to grab them right back. Those excuses remind me of toxic friends who none of us needs in our already complicated lives.

Add to this list your own defensive strategies that can carry you through the winter blues.

Understand that what worked for you a decade ago may not work for you today. Your strategies have to change to keep up with you and not the other way around. Tools are there to help us, not to frustrate us.

That said, let’s be bold enough to use the tools that work and ditch the ones that don’t. What works for someone else may not work for you, hence the importance of taking back control of our wellbeing and making peace with ourselves.

While we’re on the subject of peace, may this holiday season bring you joy, peace and good health!


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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