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Holiday Dieting-An Oxymoron

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If you over imbibe during the holidays you can fall back on Winston Churchill's famous riposte, "Ah but tomorrow, I shall be sober." (And you, who accuse me of being drunk, will still look the way you look.)

But if you overeat during the holidays, tomorrow holds no similar reprieve for you. It is denial or the gym-or denial and the gym. It's sweat pants with a draw string, sweater dresses as wide as they are long and Liz Taylor style kaftans. (Unless you still have a muumuu.)

Let's face it, "dieting" during the holidays is an oxymoron. It is actually a caloric relapse and damage control.

After months of salad, sit-ups and running on snow, you hear yourself say, "Please pass the spinach, mushroom and ricotta tart...and the mashed potatoes... and the cinnamon rolls," as if your evil twin has commandeered your mouth.

Grilled coconut rice balls dipped in brandy, 275 calories each? I'll take five. Frozen Margarita? It will help wash down the chocolate covered cashews.

margarita

Of course accompanying the carbo inebriation is denial. Well, it's Christmas. It's family. It happens once a year. I don't want to insult the cook. An extra 7,000 calories won't show. Tomorrow I'll fast. Maybe if I eat it fast, my body won't notice. (An actual comment heard at a family gathering.)

There's also self-coddling. I need to forget the recession; my job woes; my money woes; my car woes; my weight woes.

You can even arrive at the sordid antidote to "a moment on your lips, forever on your hips"-known as It's Worth It. Ask the gang doing penance on the treadmill at the health club tomorrow if it's worth it-if you can find a parking spot.

You also arrive at the scorched earth/doomsday argument. What's the point of dieting now? I've already consumed a food pantry's worth of calories and we are still on hors d'oeuvres.

Of course, close on the heels of denial is comparison. Cousin Tiffany had a field day with the pecan-praline cheesecake. Did you see how much caramel sauce she ladled on? She didn't just have seconds, she had thirds.

Did you see the way Amber polished off the bacon and blue cheese dip like she hadn't eaten in a week? Talk about a two fisted eating! Talk about double digit inflation!

And wherever there's comparison, there's sabotage. People who will heap your plate with adipose-sponsoring entrees and send you home with leftovers, including what you left on your plate, suspecting your resolve might be weaker later. Even in the car. (And to pay you back for your snarky thoughts against Tiffany and Amber.) How did they know?

Sabotagers also give you size small sweaters made in China-where no one is as big as we are-and feign surprise when they strains your neck and pecs. Thanks for that.

Of course, everyone knows kids can eat a pint of ice cream without looking up from their video game and their ribs still show. But what about the other kids?

How do college kids live on pizza and beer all day and never show a "muffin roll" between their leggings and puff jackets? Or their skinny pants? And yes, in the morning, they're sober.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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