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How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Putting on the Extra Pounds

Halloween has come and gone; now we’re revving up for the holidays. You know what that means! FOOD! Plenty of eating and drinking. And then more eating. Whether it’s gathering with family and friends or the office has planned several parties between now and the new year, the pressure will be on. This is a time of year that is notorious for eating unhealthy foods and overeating. With it comes weight gain. So, how do you manage to maintain fitness while enjoying the holidays with family and friends? Lets discuss it. You don’t want to have to make “get fit” or “lose weight” one of your New Year’s resolutions. With that, I have 11 tips to help you stay on track.

Don't Go to Dinner Hungry

Here’s a great place to start. It’s Thanksgiving morning and you’re planning to gather with your family for dinner later. You’ve decided that you’re not going to eat until then. You want to save your appetite. That’s not a good idea. Even if you’d normally fast. As I said earlier, and I’ll probably say it again, this time of the year is notorious for overeating. Now, think about seeing a table full of your holiday favorites (favorites you haven’t had in a very long time) and you haven’t eaten since yesterday. You’re more than likely going to pile food on your plate and go back for a second plate that looks the same as the first.

Have a protein packed breakfast. It’ll keep you full longer, holding you over until it’s time to eat. This will help you not overeat later. If you’d like, have lunch, but eat a snack a couple of hours before dinner.

Be Careful When Taste Testing

You’ve got family coming over or you’ve got to prepare a dish for dinner, so you want to make sure its perfect. You can’t have Aunt Mable complaining about your dressing being dry and bland and saying she should’ve made it herself. You know she won’t ever stop talking about it. So, yes I know you’ll want to taste test.

The thing about taste testing, the food you taste counts towards your daily intake. You’ll want to be careful if you’re watching your carb intake while doing keto. To avoid overindulging with “tasting” the food, don’t cook on an empty stomach. Chew gum will cooking or baking. You won’t be as tempted to taste often. Choose minty flavors over fruity ones. Minty flavors give you a feeling of satiety. You won’t be able to taste much with the mint anyway. FYI, fruity flavored gums cause you to become hungry.

You can also have someone else be your taste tester.

Don’t Sit the Food on the Dinner Table

It’s simple. See food, will eat. If it’s in front of you, especially an over abundance, you will not only put more on your plate, but you will go back for more. You’ll have to think about whether or not you want to get back up for seconds if its not at the table. Drink a little water before you decide to get back up for seconds. The water may fill you up and change your mind. If you have the space, set the food up across the room or leave it in the kitchen.

Potluck? Bring Your Favorite Healthy Dish

If you’re afraid that you will eat irresponsibly at a potluck dinner or office party, then bring one of your favorite healthy dishes. Expect that there won’t be many, if any, options for you. Sample what you want, but if you want to snack continuously, choose your dish every time. You know all of its ingredients, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not it lines up with your goals.

Portion Control

From the many social media posts I’ve seen and from personal experience, it seems that piling food on a plate is a part of the Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition. Why do we feel the need to pack our plates like it’ll be our last meal EVER? There’s usually enough food to eat for days, yet with one plate we can inadvertently meet our daily caloric needs. That’s one plate, not including seconds or thirds and desserts.

I know, this is your chance to eat some of the foods you haven’t had in a while because you’re working to eat healthier. I get it. So, how about instead of piling everything on a regular size plate, treat your portion sizes like you would on any other day. Don’t focus so much on your food choices. You really don’t want to waste calories on the foods you’d have on an average day. Have small portions of all of your holiday favorites. If you don’t trust yourself, use a smaller plate to help with portion sizes.

Controlling your portions instead of restricting your diet allows you to enjoy your holiday and still work towards your fitness goals. If you’ve switched to a vegetarian or vegan diet, that does not mean enjoy small portions of turkey or collard greens (y’all know its meat in those greens). It’s not the same. A plant-based diet is not just about weight loss. There’s a bit more to it. I’ll probably devote a post on the subject later.

Savor Your Food

It takes your brain a few minutes to alert you that you’re full, so take your time and chew your food. Enjoy all of the flavors. I like to see if I can figure out the ingredients in everything I eat. Other than the obvious ingredients, clearly. Remember these are foods you’ve more than likely given up, enjoy them.

Another thing to try is putting your fork down between bites. This gives you time to feel fullness coming on.

Also, don’t ignore the full feeling. If your stomach begins to feel tight, stop eating. Give yourself a break. Never force yourself to finish a meal. It’s not a competition. Scarfing everything down fast will cause you to overeat and feel full and miserable.

Drink Water

Water has zero calories and aids in digestion. It is also filling. Plus, you want to stay hydrated. Sodas cause bloating and are loaded with sugar. For tips on how to increase your water intake click here.


Limit liquor like you should desserts (I’ll touch on that in a second). Wine and mixed drinks are full of empty calories and sugar. If you really want to drink, drink your liquor straight or with whole fruit and club soda.

Remember, liquor decreases inhibitions. The more you drink, the less mindful you’ll be about what you eat and IF you should actually be eating.

Enjoy Your Favorite Desserts, in Moderation

Desserts are everywhere this time of the year. My section at the office loves to bring in treats almost daily during the holidays. So that I don’t stray too bad and still enjoy the festivities, I limit myself to one dessert a day, twice a week. So that’s two sweet treats a week. I’m human, so sometimes I don’t stick to it and have more in a week and sometimes I’ll go weeks without any. My rule, however, is two of my favorite treats a week. It gives me balance.

If you know it can cause a downward spiral for you, avoid it altogether.

That brings me to my next point.

It’s Ok to Say No

Everybody won’t understand. They won’t get your journey. Be ok with saying no when you don’t want another plate, a slice of cake, AND food to take home. Family and coworkers can encourage overeating and poor eating choices. They like to make sure you’re well fed. A simple, no thank you is sufficient. You don’t have to explain yourself.

Don’t be afraid to stick to your regiment. Never feel like you’re being difficult or that you have

to compromise your goals for social acceptance. You’ve chosen to make changes in your life and you chose the route that was best for you. Don’t waver because you’ve decided to live a vegetarian lifestyle and they don’t understand why you won’t eat the turkey dressing.

It’s a lifestyle change. If you’ve decided that a plant-based diet or staying away from added sugar forever is best for your health, remember you didn’t make this decision for anyone else. So, it doesn’t matter how someone feels about what you’re doing on your journey. It takes discipline and consistency to reach goals. When you decide to change you have to actually be willing to change, find your balance, and stick with it.

Be Active

You want to keep your active routine during the holiday season. It would not be wise to take a break from it at this time. Actually, it would be more beneficial to increase your activity. If your goal is to walk at least 10000 steps a day increase it. If you have a time goal, such as 30 minutes of activity a day, increase the time by 15 minutes a day. During this time of the year your caloric intake will increase. Balance it out by increasing your activity.

On those party and gathering days, days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, its important that you remain active throughout the day instead of sitting or laying around. Get a morning workout in, if time permits. Take a walk after your meal. Burn energy (calories) with little thought by helping to clean up. This will also keep you from sitting around and eating more. Get out in the bustle of holiday shopping and walk. Turn on the music and dance with your family! This is a fun family activity where you’ll burn calories and get your heart pumping.

Expect tons of questions and side-eye worthy comments. It comes with it. Pressure will be applied and your will and strength will be tested. I speak from experience. Above all, remember your goals for your well being. This is your journey and no one else’s. Find your balance using these tips and enjoy the holidays knowing that you won’t being going into the new year having regressed.


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