So here we are going into the holiday season after what hopefully was a healthy and fit summer. You set some goals for yourself, got into a groove, and made some progress, only to have the temptations begin. It starts with Halloween, continues with Thanksgiving, and (hopefully) ends in December with Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate. It all equals food and a lot of it, and usually not salads. It’s typical in January after the frenzy of the holidays for most of us to find that we’ve fallen away from our exercise routine, gotten back into the cycle of eating foods with a lot of fat, sugar and salt, and packed on a few unwanted pounds as a result. Our big step forward just took a big step back, in just a handful of crazy weeks.But it doesn’t have to go that way this year. The key to getting through the food-focused holiday season is to recommit—and protect that commitment—to your goals, most importantly your food-based goals. What you eat during the next few weeks is way more important than exercise, so your focus needs to be on trying to make the right choices with what you put in your mouth. Every piece of pie is still 300-600 calories, even if it’s a holiday! Birthday cake has just as many calories as any other kind of cake. And vegetables glazed in fat, sugar and salt probably have as many calories as the holiday cookies you’re trying so hard not to eat. Being hyper conscious of what you eat needs to be your primary goal for the next two months. Commit to it.At the same time, there’s no reason not to enjoy the delicious food of the holidays—you just have to pick and choose wisely. Make sure you really want that cookie or that piece of cake...don’t just eat it because it’s a special occasion or because it’s there. Remaining vigilant and aware of our choices will make sure that we really enjoy the treats we decide to allow ourselves.So here are some tips to help you get through the holiday food maze:1. Recommit to your exercise program and make sure to hit the times you’ve planned. Working out tends to make us want to eat good food and reduces our cravings for fat, sugar and salt. Exercise also gets our endorphins going, which works to battle holiday stress and anxiety. And it relaxes us and helps us to sleep better.2. Focus on the purpose of the holiday, not the food. The real meaning of the holidays is to spend time with our family and friends, not to gorge ourselves. But if your family tends to center everything around food, that’s still okay—just don’t center yourself around it. And don’t be embarrassed to mention that you’re trying to watch what you eat through the holidays—you may just be helping someone else to do the same.3. Use a dessert plate for your food, not a dinner plate. Dessert plates are smaller but still fit a full meal with normal portions. When we use dinner plates, we tend to fill them up, which almost always exceeds normal portion sizes. And, as we continue to learn, if it’s on our plate, we’ll eat it!4. Resist the fat-sugar-salt food cycle. Most definitely allow yourself some holiday treats, just keep them under control and don’t splurge. Set a rule for yourself like “one treat every other day” or “one cheat meal every weekend”, and then enjoy it. Deprivation will backfire on you, so be sure to cut yourself a little slack here and there.5. Savor the food you choose to eat. Eat it slowly, chew it thoroughly, really taste it. Truly savoring what you eat will satisfy you sooner and with less.Good luck, everyone, and remember—we’re all in this together! See you next week.
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