First things first. Everyone knows that the holiday season brings with it days when you are short on time and events that are typically long on food options. Everything seems to be in excess. At this time of the year, people tend to either remain really strict about their diet and exercise program or toss it all together for the six weeks of the "holiday period" according to Sue Cummings, MD at the General Hospital Weight Center in Boston. Clearly, there are better options in both scenarios that will allow you to enjoy all of the good foods you only get once a year without blowing off all of the hard work you have put in from January to November!
Keep in mind that the holidays are just that, DAYS not weeks or months. After every holiday event, make sure to head back to your normal eating routine. Also, watch the calories in your favorite holiday spirits. Alcohol contains empty calories that can quickly add up. If you are curious about how many calories are in your favorites visit: http://www.wastedcalories.com/cocktails.html
Try using the 80/80 approach. Janet Laubgross, Ph. D., a Fairfax-based weight management psychologist suggests that " 80% of the time you do 80% of the things that are healthy for you. During the other 20%, let go a little and enjoy small portions of your favorite foods." It is the thought of "blowing your diet" or trying to deprive yourself that sends most folks into a downward spiral. If you slip up and violate your own regimen all is not lost! Take it in stride and get back in the saddle the next day.
Avoid a fridge full of temptation. Toss leftovers or send them home with your guests. Donating extra food to a local food bank is also a good idea to keep you from doing the midnight run to the fridge to indulge in holiday temptations. Out of sight, out of mind!
Make time for yourself this season. Penciling in "downtime" can be key in avoiding the exhaustion that can lead to making poor food choices. Make sure you find time to exercise even if it is just as few a 30 minutes and few times a week. Group exercise classes can also be a fun way to reduce stress. You will find that taking a little time to yourself will help you get through the stresses of the holiday that can contribute to weight gain.
Be careful of where you indulge. Don't burn up calories on something that you really don't enjoy or can get at any time of the year. Save your "splurge moments" for the holiday treats you are just wild about like grandma's pumpkin pie or Aunt Jane's world-famous mac & cheese. Make every calorie in those once-a-year pleasure count!
Take time to savor the flavors of the holiday. Give everything you eat this holiday your full attention. Practice what Dr. Cummings calls "mindful eating." The basic principle is simple and sound...if you eat something distractedly it does not register. Even if it is something small, take time to put it on a plate, sit down and really ENJOY it. Don't taste test while you are cooking or stand over the buffet table at a party. Even though you are only taking in small amounts of food at a time, those calories count and can add up before you know it!
Be in control of what you are eating. It can be very difficult at times to pass on sweet treats offered by your host or hostess at a holiday event, but chances are they will be too busy with other guests to notice what you are eating. Don't be impolite but you are the captain of your waistline and you should be able to pass on whatever you like. For the does and don't of buffets visit: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0846/is_4_23/ai_111146684/
Maintain, don't gain. If you can maintain your weight through November and December consider yourself successful! The holidays are the WORST times to try and actively work on shedding pounds. The best present you could give yourself is not adding the stress of trying to stick to a weight loss program to the equation. Continue to exercise and be mindful of your portion sizes and you will find the scale tipping in your favor at season's end!