By Lisa Caplan


Anyone who has heard me speak, read one of my tip sheets, or knows me, knows that I really emphasize living with intent. Simply put, know why you are making the choices you are making and then own it.

With the holidays upon us, the celebrations are endless, and, therefore, so is the opportunity to choose to overindulge in all the yummy food. I’ll be honest, I love food, and when I go to a social event, the first thing I think about is the food. So how do we manage all the food, maintain some control over our health and weight, and still have a fun holiday season? Simple – we stop running on autopilot and make active choices about what we want to do. For example, are you ok with gaining a few pounds over the holidays? Do you want to maintain your weight? Do you want to exercise more to balance out the extra food you’ll enjoy? Whatever you decide works for you is fine, but make a decision, and then you will feel more in control of your life.

Here are some tips on taking control of your food choices over the holiday season:

  1. Decide you want to eat and drink whatever you want, and you will deal with the fall out after the holidays. Yes, this is a choice, and if you decide you want to do this then it is perfectly ok and there is no reason to feel guilty.
  2. Decide to plan ahead before the celebration on what you want to eat and what you want to skip. For example, you may choose to skip soda and other sugary drinks that have empty calories and eat dessert instead.
  3. You may plan to eat other foods in lieu of alcoholic beverages, which are just empty calories.
  4. Don’t skip breakfast and lunch before a celebration with the intention that you will eat all your calories at the party. Doing this will cause you to overeat, and end up eating more than you would have if you had eaten something prior to the party. Instead, eat small healthy meals the rest of the day, for example a hardboiled egg, a few almonds and an apple for breakfast and something similar for lunch. Try to avoid foods high in carbohydrates and sugar which will make you crave more sugary foods.
  5. Offer to bring a healthy side dish to the party.
  6. Plan to exercise the day of the celebration.
  7. Drink a 16 oz glass of water before the party to curb your appetite, and give you a chance to check out all the food before you start eating.
  8. Choose to focus on the people that are there and not the food. Go to socialize and spend time with friends and family.
  9. Take three bites. There is a “three bite rule” that says to count bites not calories. So, if you want to try it, here it is. Choose the foods you want, and then limit yourself to three bites of that food. I have seen people do this with dessert and it can work really well. Since I work with a lot of people who are living in recovery, I think this idea could get out of control by pushing the limits. You could absolutely abuse this by eating huge bites, choosing a hundred foods from the buffet, or many other creative ways someone who lives with addiction might abuse this. So, use your judgment, you know yourself, and if it doesn’t work try something else.
  10. Learn to say “no, thank you.” Pick and choose which celebrations you really want to attend. If you are invited to ten parties, ask yourself if you really want to go to all of them, and if not, RSVP no to some.

For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors throughout Maryland. Jim Quinn, Lawyer Assistance Director, (443) 703-3041,; Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Associate Director of the Lawyer Assistance Program, (443) 703-3042,  Toll Free 1 (888) 388-5459.

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 20 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma.