By Jennifer Hodges, RD, LDN

The holidays are here and many of us are still recovering from our Thanksgiving feast!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, however, it can also become a very stressful time of the year regarding our waistlines.  The average person gains between 5-8 pounds during the holiday season.  That can mean almost a whole size in your clothing.

Many of us are focused on weight loss.  I have many friends who have been successfully losing weight and they are doing an incredible job.  Sometimes though, the holidays can set us up for failure which allows us to beat ourselves up.  Not much holiday cheer there ….so what should we do?  One thing I would highly suggest is towork on weight MAINTENANCE from now through January 1.  If you are able to do that, you are setting yourself up for a great way to start off the New Year!

Never go to a holiday party hungry.

When you are standing around the buffet/dessert table, it is very hard to keep track of how much you eat especially when you are having fun conversations with friends, co-workers and family.  By filling up on some healthier foods at home such as raw vegetables with a low fat dip or hummus, eating a piece of fruit and yes, drinking your water, you will not be as ravenous once you get there.

Have a plan before you get there

This means that maybe you have thought through the menu beforehand (if you already have knowledge of the foods being served).  Plan out what you will allow yourself to have before you get there.  Decide on how many trips you will allow yourself to make to the food table, are you going to have an alcoholic drink or skip one so you can have a small bit of dessert.  Having a plan in place BEFORE you get there will make a HUGE difference.

If you are going to bake, package up the baked goodies immediately

for those you are baking them for.  By having them lay around the house, you are more tempted to eat them.  Once you wrap them up in their pretty little packages, you won’t touch them.

One “not so great” meal does not ruin a whole day of eating.

I see so many people do this where they eat more than they normally would at a meal, they feel so bad about it and rather than putting it behind them and getting back in the saddle before the next meal, they sabotage their healthy eating plan.  This is a very vicious cycle that you really want to try to avoid.  It’s okay to eat and enjoy yourself, just cut back a little bit at your next meal.  Practicing this self control is not easy and takes lots of practice, but once you learn how to do it, you will gain control over your life.

The best Christmas gift you can give yourself is exercise.

Many of you have found the importance of exercise.  It will jump start your metabolism and help to burn off those calories.  Plus the benefits on your health are unlimited.  Many of us wait until the New Year to start exercising.  I challenge you to start something during the month of December.  Even if you walk 2 times per week, you will start January off feeling ahead of the game plus you are doing your body good!

Focus on healthy eating not a diet.

Research shows that many will go on and off a diet, however, if you focus on healthy eating as a lifestyle change, you will be more successful in the long run.  Taking the weight off slow and steady will lead to more long term weight loss.

Happy Holidays!