It’s that time of year again when acquaintances you vaguely interact with aggressively offer you food at every social gathering, formal or informal. It is also the time of year when you will be forced to pull out your smartphones to take selfies with your long-lost friends at holiday parties you did not even want to attend in the first place. And if that isn’t enough to get excited about, do not forget the joy of going home to your family’s annual Christmas festivities and being greeted at the front door by your great aunt who asks if you are pregnant or just getting fat.
You are not getting fat, but society (and your great aunt) will most assuredly make you feel like you are. It is all a marketing ploy, but your psyche is too emotionally vulnerable during the holiday season to recognize or fight against it. You have two choices: start dieting or begin exercising more. (There are three choices if you include a balanced addition of both, but moderation is not this generation’s thing.) If you are someone who hates exercising, dieting is your only choice. If you are someone who likes exercise, dieting is still your only choice because no one has time to add an extra spin class around the holidays. So, like most people — particularly people you would not think need to lose weight — you have decided to go on a holiday diet. ‘Tis the season, my friend.
Remember to stay positive. It is just a coincidence the first three letters of diet are die. You are not going to die, you are just going to wish you were dead.
As science keeps telling us over and over again, the number one way to lose weight is to consume less calories than you burn. Simple theory, impossible practice.
Luckily, everyone is trying to prove science wrong these days, and there are quite a few trendy diets on the market you can try briefly for the season. Here’s a sample:
Low-carb. Put down the bread and step away from the butter. This might be the most difficult seasonal diet due to the preponderance of carbs on most Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa tables. Your best option is to simply avoid social gatherings in general. No parties, no dinners, no lunches. By the end of the December you’ll be looking great and missing all your friends.
Vegetarian. You have probably considered this at some point in your life already, so why not just take the leap and cut all meat from your daily meals? This is a great dieting strategy because now you are no longer allowed cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, steaks, ribs, rib eyes … You know, everything good. When you find yourself constantly thinking about all the delicious animals you can no longer partake of with ketchup, remind yourself of all the calories you are saving. A calorie saved is a calorie lost. And never fear, you can be “one of those vegetarians” and still eat fish. (Fish sticks for dinner three nights a week!) You like fish, don’t you? No? The world is 70 percent water, learn to like fish.
Vegan. If going vegetarian just isn’t giving you the results you want — let’s be honest, it is possible to replace most meats with carbs and still feel moderately full — your next option is to go vegan. I know, I know, you sort of hate smug vegans — we all do. The good news is you only have to make it until New Year’s (those smartphones will not go away until everyone is failing at their resolutions). And, you do not have to be smug about your dietary choices: no one does. It is a weird thing to be smug about and everyone thinks it is rude. But, I digress.
Going vegan can be tough because there are more rules than vegetarianism and less tasty food options. On the bright side, you will eat less food due to the lack of taste and additional time preparation usually required. Unless you live in a liberal metropolitan area, you will also dine out less due to a lack of menu options and annoyed serving staff. Silver lining: You lose weight and save money. Win-win.
If you find yourself mid-way through December and none of these options have worked for you, possibly because you only stuck to them for three hours collectively, then it is time to break out the big guns. Your final diet option is the No Calorie Diet.
The No Calorie Diet is by far the simplest, yet most difficult, diet you will encounter. You calculate how many calories you typically eat in one day, subtract that number from itself, and that becomes the amount of calories you allow yourself to consume. Feel free to cry if you have the strength left. This diet will leave you without much energy or brain function, but you’ll definitely lose three-to-five pounds the two days you manage to stick to it. If you last longer than three days on the No Calorie Diet, I hope you have a caring friend or family member in your life that will stage an intervention that includes sweet potato casserole.
It should be noted I cannot legally advise you to try the No Calorie Diet. It could kill you, but so could the embarrassment you feel when looking at Facebook photos of the holidays. Praise be for the “untag” button.
Cetoria Tomberlin is a poet originally from South Georgia. Her work has previously appeared inFairy Tale Review, NonBinary Review, Cicada, and online at LADYGUNN, HelloGiggles, McSweeney’s and various other publications. She is currently a book reviewer for Alternating Current and Diverse Kids Books. Follow her on Twitter @Cetoria.