Celebrations are indeed in full swing. From office parties to reunion dinners to Christmas cocktails and of course, noche buena, 'tis the season to be feasting. But is this the time to throw sensible eating out the window? Not necessarily. It's rare to use the words "diet" and "holiday eating" together and end up happily satiated and guilt-free. The key, however, says Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen, is variety, moderation, and balance. More importantly, one needs the right attitude, which is what he espouses with the Bon Appetit Diet (or B.A.D.).
There's no need to hide when the social invitations come, nor starve for weeks so no one may binge during their festivities. Dr. Cohen insists on adopting a lifestyle with realistic expectations and delights in food. It has to be made clear however that it's still about counting calories, but that's just part of the program. The idea still rests on having a well-balanced diet—restricting calories, making better food choices, and adopting flexible eating plans so you can enjoy the act of eating.
It is, firstly, a personalized food guide. You can expect the program to teach how to choose the right food through relearning and repetition. Enrollment gives full access to recipes and personalized diet in accordance with ones goals and weight requirements.
Second, it insists on kindness—to yourself. It's understanding of slips; it knows you'll have cravings, and it doesn't ask to give up all the nice things. It simply asks you pair your favorite food with healthier options.
Third, it incorporates a support system and in individualized coaching program. While one may simply adhere to the rules and principles of the program, the Bon Appetite Diet harnesses the power of encouragement and expert advice. Once enrolled, you have access to Dr. Cohen and his team of nutritionists through a personal online account. Specific questions are replied to by Dr. Cohen and his team of dieticians—he knows the success of any endeavor, especially one that asks for a lifestlye change, doesn't happen overnight, and is likely more succesful when support is at hand.
How to be good on the B.A.D. program:
The B.A.D. program includes day-after recovery menus; just don't go overboard—just remember: It's not the only time you'll get a bite while you're on the program.
Eat at home. Munching before leaving for a party helps you stick to smaller portions when you go out.
Skip the bread basket and nuts. Opt for raw veggies, a cheese dip, or enjoy a salad instead.
Drink lots of water. It's a good trick to keeping your wine intake in check.
Give in on occasion. Do indulge in that slice of cake or cheesy lasagna.
Experiment. An apple is better with cinnamon and vanilla than by itself.
Choose what you can't live without. Have a small taste of goodies and help yourself to a few pieces of your favorite from the dessert spread. Appreciate and savor to avoid bingeing and aimless eating.
Socialize. Laughing with friends and engaging in conversation are better alternatives to picking on food all night long.
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Have any of these two delectable goodies as a treat each week:
One wine glass (3 1/2 oz) of either red or white wine a day. For special occasions, you can have three glasses at most.
One slice (35 g) of cheese, at most three slices (100 g) of cheese a day. One slice is equivalent to one dairy serving in a meal.
Three squares (15 g) of dark chocolate a day, equivalent to one dairy serving in a meal.
One slice (80 g) of thin-crust cheese pizza or one slice (80 g) of thin crust pizza with meat and vegetable toppings, in place of one cup of rice.
One bottle (8 oz) of soda in place of one fruit serving in a meal. Better if diet or zero-calorie variations.
One-third cup of regular ice cream, in exchange for one dairy serving a meal.
One regular slice of cake (any kind) in exchange for a half cup of rice and one serving of dairy in a meal.
One regular-sized frappuccino in exchange for a half cup of rice and one serving of dairy in a meal. Make sure to ask the barrista to remove the corn syrup and use non-fat cream.
The Bon Appetite Diet is available in the Philippines through BelleToday.com.ph.
*This article originally appeared in Preview Magazine's December 2011 issue.