How to lose weight during the holidays without losing friends

Helpful hints from

It happens at every party: You swear that you’ll stick to your diet and you’re really sticking to your guns, popping crunchy baby carrots into your mouth like chocolate bon bons while everyone else is loading up on nachos and guacamole dip.

Then someone – your mother who has been slaving over the hot stove all day, your Uncle Mike who has polished off three martinis, your best friend Mary who has been trying to lose 25 pounds for the last 25 years – steps up to your plate and fills it with an extra-large helping of guilt.

“Come on, live a little. Just eat one piece,” your sister says as she tries to stuff the stuffing in your face. “It’s your favorite, and I made it just for you. I’ll be hurt if you don’t at least try it.”

And before you know it, you’re having your cake, and everyone else’s cake, and eating it, too.

Family and friends, the people you expect to support you, are the very ones who are most likely to sabotage your diet, either consciously or subconsciously, and that’s why you need a neutral buddy to get you through every wedding, birthday, bar mitzvah and holiday party, experts say.

“When we sit down at the table, we’re all sort of comparing how we shape up with the other people there,” says Henrietta Harrison, a psychotherapist and life coach in Westport, Conn. “We’re all looking around the table to see who looks older than last year, who looks thinner, who looks heavier.”

And when people indulge, adds Laura Cipullo, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with offices in Manhattan, New Jersey and upstate New York, “typically they want others to be ‘bad’ with them and indulge, too.”

But as Cipullo and Harrison point out, just because you are offered the piece of homemade pumpkin pie doesn’t mean that you have to eat the whole thing. But it does mean that you can understand why you are being asked to eat it and then enlist your family and friends to help everyone beat their bad eating habits.

“It can be threatening to a partner when the other loses weight because the thinner person will become more attractive to other people,” Harrison says. “When you lose weight, particularly if you are a woman, your confidence increases and it’s empowering. This can upset the balance of power because as she gets more assertive, she becomes confident enough to change jobs, run for the PTA or even go back to work.”

By making your family and friends your buddies, everybody wins the weight-loss game, Harrison and Cipullo say. “The buddy system is a good idea,” Cipullo says, “because the entire family can be on the same page. If mom and dad are eating a certain way or one child is eating a certain way, the whole family should be eating that way – healthy.”

Outside buddies, who provide encouragement and help 24/7, also can be part of your weight-loss network. “I recommend having someone to talk to before, during and after you go to these events,” Harrison says. “Buddying up during the holidays is crucial for people who are alone because you get companionship. You get someone on your team. is one way to do this. It is ideal for a lot of people because it’s like one-stop shopping.”

Once you have a buddy, you can work together to change the menu for future parties. “Make the holidays less about food,” Cipullo says. “Meet for appetizers and drinks, not for formal sit-down dinners. Go ice skating or go for coffee or go out to a restaurant and choose your own food. Go out and look at holiday lights. Go for a manicure or a pedicure with your friends so you can sit around and chat and catch up.”

And if your willpower does buckle under the mistletoe, remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be feast or famine. “When you learn to ride a bike, you sometimes fall off,” Harrison says. “And when you learn, you don’t learn to ride in a straight line; you weave back and forth and that’s how diets should be.”’s Top 10 tips for the holidays

1. Find a buddy to help you get through the event and call or e-mail the buddy before, during and after the party. For more information on the buddy system, go to

2. If you are a guest, eat a small low-calorie snack before you go to the party at the time you usually eat dinner. If you are the cook, eat a small low-calorie snack before you prepare the meal.

3. Eat smaller portions of everything on the table.

4. Nibble your way through the party.

5. Use the three-bite rule: If someone insists you eat a food that’s not on your diet, only eat three bites of it. That way, you can tell the cook how much you have enjoyed it, and everyone is satisfied.

6. Ask whether you can take a piece of pie or cake home to eat later. Savor every bite by pacing yourself, only eating a little bit every day.

7. When you turn down a fattening food, substitute a lower-cal food in its place. For instance, instead of the pumpkin pie with whipped cream, eat an apple.

8. Just say no to that extra helping of stuffing. But do it politely.

9. Change your holiday traditions so that activities, not food, are the center of attention.

10. If you do blow your diet, don’t punish yourself and don’t end your diet. Every day is a new day.

About the author: We at are devoted to helping you find a 24/7 buddy who will not only help you lose weight but who also will get you to change to a healthy lifestyle. You choose your own diet and your own exercise regime, and we find you a buddy who will literally stick with you through thick and thin. Signing up for a buddy is free. Simply call up or call 1-877-BUDDY-UP.

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