AMARILLO, Texas - Green-and-red frosted cookies are enough to crack even the strongest resolve. Such sugary temptations are the land mines dieters must tiptoe past during holidays. But some nutrition experts advise the best strategy is to allow the occasional slip, since holding out completely often ends in failure.
"There's a difference between 'holiday eating' and eating on Christmas Day," said Tim Cunningham, dietitian at Eat-Rite Health Promotion Center. "If you eat a lot of sweets throughout the whole holiday season, you're going to have trouble. But one day of cheating isn't going to offset a whole diet."
Taking a break from strict diet control to enjoy the holidays can help the mind stay more focused at other times, said naturopathic doctor Terry Rudd.
If you have a party coming up, follow through with your diet during the week so you'll have room to fudge a little on the weekend, said Kari Mueller, membership growth director at Gold's Gym.
The gym's staff and members will follow that suggestion when they break their regimens for a Christmas party this weekend. And although vegetable trays and turkey sandwiches will be on hand, the health-conscious partiers will have to be careful not to overdo it on breads, chips and cookies.
People who give in to carbohydrate-high party snacks such as pretzels, party mix and breads can offset the effects somewhat with protein sources such as meat pates and smoked salmon, Rudd said.
Carbohydrates elevate the blood-sugar level, which leads to cravings and storing fat, Rudd said, but proteins help keep the blood-sugar level balanced.
Rudd recommended staying away from pure candies and other snacks with artificial colors and sweeteners that can stress the body's detoxification systems and leave you with a headache, foggy thinking and a blah feeling of too much partying.
To make up for slacking off during this weekend, Mueller said she will probably make the Monday-morning workout class she teaches a little more intense. She will lace it with drills that increase heart rate, such as jumping jacks and step-ups, to burn off some of the fat that already has been stored, she said.
Because of the weekend binge, Monday's workout won't feel too good for the partiers, she said.
"You can push as hard as you want, but it still won't feel good," she said. "But when you come in on Tuesday, it'll be better."
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