10/20/2012 11:10 am ET Updated Dec 20, 2012

Say 'No' to Too Much Food

With the holiday season coming, many people give themselves permission to stuff not only a turkey, but themselves. When an attitude of overindulgence prevails, how do you summon the strength to say "no" to the extras? And how do you turn down well-meaning friends and relatives who don't see anything wrong with "one more little piece" of a "harmless" treat?

I have been maintaining a 50-pound weight loss for several decades, and the word "no" has become second nature to me. The result? I like the way I look and feel, and I don't waste energy regretting my latest debauchery. Here are a few strategies I've used to refrain from eating too much. I hope they will work for you as well.

  • Take your "fair share" -- and nothing more. Keep to one portion of whatever you choose, and stop after eating a full plate of food. We are so used to dashing from one thing to the next. Instead, force yourself to sit and savor the feeling of eating well.
  • Plan in advance. Sometimes, writing down a predetermined "fair share" can help you reject the overtures of food-pushers. If you feel tempted, just look at your pad and revisit your plan. The answer is there, in black and white -- you don't need anything more!
  • Watch your momentum. If you are prone to binge eating, know that the first bite of an unplanned indulgence can set you off to the races, and guilt can keep you going full steam ahead. If this is the case for you, avoid the temptation entirely.
  • Own your right to stop. "No" is a complete sentence. Once you say it, you do not have to explain yourself. Just smile. If the other person persists, just smile and repeat your power word.
  • Look outside yourself. Observe others who stuff themselves. They may look like they are enjoying themselves while in the act of eating, but note how they become sleepy or sickly after overindulging. Store this in your memory for when you are tempted to do the same in the future.
  • Feel your feelings. People often stuff themselves to avoid feeling awkward or unpleasant emotions. Know that discomfort will not cause you to die. In fact, you can use it to find out useful information about yourself or others.
  • Choose your own path. When someone urges you to partake in overindulging, don't waste energy trying to figure out why. They will one day learn for themselves... or not. Either way, live your life in a way that is best for you.

Oh, yes. Observe how good you feel when that petite word "no" has the upper hand. If I can learn to do it, so can you!

For more by Helene Lerner, click here.

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