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Don't Think Of It As Weight Gain, Consider It Personal Growth
(and other Holiday diet tricks)

According to experts, most of us will gain weight during the holidays. (I like to think of it not as weight gain, but as "personal growth.")  The holiday noshing season starts when you scarf down that first miniature Butterfinger that "falls out" of your 10-year old's Halloween stash as you're shaking it all over the bed. And it doesn't stop until you've licked the red stripes off the last candy cane on the tree. Not that I've ever done this.

Everywhere you turn, there's someone offering advice for sane holiday eating. There are nutritionists and supermodels who'll tell you to "drink lots of water before going to a party. This way, you'll fool your stomach into thinking it's full." I don't know about your stomach, but mine is smart enough to know the difference between tap water and a seven-course meal followed by chocolate cheesecake and a half-dozen gingerbread men. (I always have the gingerbread men because nutritionists also say that men have less fat than women.)

Now, I'm not an expert or a supermodel, but I do know a thing or two about eating during the holidays. So, I've put together my own holiday diet. This plan is guaranteed - if you follow it tongue-in-cheek - to help you laugh off a few ounces, while toning your abdominal muscles.

STEP 1:  Aversion Therapy. Buy as many home and personal fragrances as you can afford in the following scents: vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and pumpkin. Spray each of them several times throughout the day. When the aroma no longer makes you hungry, but instead makes you want to run screaming outside for some fresh air, you're ready for Step 2.

STEP 2:  The Fruitcake Patch. A lot of you have probably tried the nicotine patch to quit smoking. The fruitcake patch works in a similar fashion. Cut off a 1/2-inch slice of fruitcake, making sure to get as many of those green gelatinous things as possible. Now, cut off two 4-inch strips of duct tape and tape the fruitcake to your upper arm. Wear the fruitcake patch for seven consecutive days. Don't worry, it won't fall apart in the shower - it's fruitcake, after all. Never apply more than one patch at a time. The weight could throw you off balance.

By day three, the sight of anything sweet should make you queasy. But the real benefit of the fruitcake patch shows up much later, when the unpleasant odor will cause your friends to rescind their offers to attend holiday parties. And if they're too polite to uninvite you, you'll find it almost impossible to find a holiday outfit that looks good with a hunk of duct-taped fruitcake sticking out of the sleeve.

STEP 3:  Balance Your Meals. If you've gotten all the way to a party even after following Steps 1 and 2, you need Step 3. You know how hard it is to balance a plate of goodies in one hand and a glass in the other, and still get any food into your mouth? Imagine how much more difficult this task becomes if you have one arm in a sling. So get yourself a nice sling and put it on your strongest arm. If you're talented enough to eat with one arm in a sling, try the advanced Step 3: Wear a straitjacket. In addition to keeping those extra pounds in check, you'll be the center of attention. If none of these tips works for you, do as I do during the holidays - hire a designated eater. Bon appetit!

By Leigh Anne Jasheway - Family Circle - Dec 1999