It’s that time of year again. Holiday shopping. Entertaining guests. Attending parties and dinners. Planning family and vacation time. Not to mention the wonderfully tempting food. Will you be able to resist the Christmas pudding and those beautifully decorated sugar cookies?

Studies show that the average American gains about 1-2 pounds over the holiday season. This may not sound like much but those pounds tend to become permanent baggage and over the years, the pounds add up and slowly contribute to obesity without you even noticing! No doubt with all the festivities, we tend to eat and drink more and exercise less. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we forget to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, with a little bit of planning, you can enjoy tradition while maintaining your coolness and without gaining weight.

If you’ve been trying to lose weight, shift your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance. No one wants to be on a strict diet over the holidays and with all the temptation, it’s hard enough just to maintain your weight, let alone try to lose weight. Get through the holidays and then get back on your weight loss plan in the new year.

Here are 3 tips to get you through the holidays healthily.

  1. Schedule in down time and make it a priority.

As time gets tighter and tighter, you may not be able to get in a 1-2 hour workout or massage anymore. Instead, it might be a 20 minute power walk during lunch or a 5 minute stretch between meetings. But a little relaxation goes a long way. Taking care of yourself is the key to keeping your cool through the busy-ness of the day. Hold yourself to the utmost importance and schedule time for yourself everyday (preferably at the same time every day). You wouldn’t miss an important work meeting so don’t forgo your self-care.

  1. Keep it fresh and simple.

If you’re hosting a party, do yourself and your guests a favor by starting with light appetizers like fresh vegetables with a light yogurt dip, shrimp cocktail, or mixed nuts. For the mains, try grilling or roasting. Avoid creamy sauces which tend to be heavier in calories. Instead, keep it simple and try flavoring with different herbs and spices or salsas. Lemon and garlic are great options. For dessert, stick with fruit options like fruit skewers, fruit salad, fruit crumble, or yogurt with fresh berries. Regarding drinks, try flavoring water with orange, lemon, or cucumber slices. Offer simple alcohol choices like wine and beer instead of cocktails that tend to be higher in sugar and calories. If you’re going to a potluck, be the one to bring a fresh fruit or veggie dish. It’s quick, easy, and takes little to no preparation.

  1. Scan. And enjoy.

If you know you’re going to a party or dinner, anticipate temptation by getting in fitness and filling yourself with nutritious foods beforehand. You won’t splurge as much if you’re not starving. When you’re faced with a buffet of food, first scan your options. Fill your plate with foods that are simply prepared. Make sure it includes a rainbow of colors, with the goal of at least half of your plate being vegetables. Then sit down and enjoy! Take time to taste the flavors and really savor the food. Enjoy the company and conversation. Laugh. Give yourself at least 20 minutes and drink water before deciding whether or not to go back for more.

And at the end, if all fails, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all human and sometimes give in to temptation and end up splurging. Just acknowledge, reassess, and do better at the next party.

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