If you drink too much during the holidays most people––including you––will soon forget about it. But if you overeat during the holidays, tomorrow holds no similar reprieve for you. It is denial or the gym–or denial and the gym. It’s sweatpants with a drawstring, sweater dresses as wide as they are long and Liz Taylor style kaftans. (Unless you still have a muumuu.)
Let’s face it, “dieting” during the holidays is an oxymoron. It is actually a caloric relapse followed by damage control.
After months of salad, sit-ups and running on snow, you hear yourself say, “Please pass the spinach, mushroom and ricotta tart… and the mashed potatoes… and the cinnamon rolls,” as if your evil twin has commandeered your mouth.
Grilled coconut rice balls dipped in brandy, 275 calories each? I’ll take five. Frozen Margarita? It will help wash down the chocolate covered cashews.
Accompanying the holiday calorie relapse are feeble rationalizations. Well, it’s Christmas. It’s family. It happens once a year. I don’t want to insult the cook. An extra 7,000 calories won’t show. Tomorrow I’ll fast. One woman told me she actually says to herself “if I eat it fast, my body won’t notice” in defiance of the old saying “a moment on your lips, forever on your hips.”
There’s also self-coddling. I need to forget the recession; my job woes; my money woes; my car woes; my boyfriend woes; my weight woes. Yes we eat to forget our weight problem just like people drink to forget their drinking problem.
After a certain point, we can fall into the scorched earth defense––What’s the point of dieting now? I’ve already consumed a week’s worth of calories and we are still on hors-d’oeuvres.
Especially insidious rationalizations are found under Comparison––when everyone else is eating more. Famous last words: I’m not as bad as her.
Cousin Tiffany had a field day with the pecan-praline cheesecake. Did you see how much caramel sauce she ladled on? She didn’t just have seconds, she had thirds.
Did you see the way Amber polished off the bacon and bleu cheese dip like she hadn’t eaten in a week? Talk about a two-fisted eating! Talk about double-digit inflation!
And, of course, wherever there’s comparison, there’s sabotage. People who will heap your plate with adipose-sponsoring entrees and send you home with leftovers, suspecting that your resolve might be weaker later. And maybe to pay you back for your snarky thoughts against Tiffany and Amber.
True saboteurs will even give you a size small sweater or leggings––made in a country where few are as big as Americans— as a gift. When the clothes barely pass your collarbones or knees, the saboteur will lament, “Oh. I was sure it would fit.”
As many head to the health club for the hard weeks ahead after their holiday overeating––if they can find a parking spot––some might wish that they just would have drunk too much.
Martha Rosenberg is author of the award-cited food exposé “Born With a Junk Food Deficiency,” distributed by Random House. A nationally known muckraker, she has lectured at the university and medical school level and appeared on radio and television.