5 Ways to Keep the Holiday Magic Off Your Waistline

Posted On Dec 13, 2013 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

healthy diet during the holidays

Leftovers from holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and Grandma's famous pies … you get the idea. This time of year, the list is endless with opportunities for overindulging. Combine the not so healthy holiday treats with shorter colder days to make exercise more challenging, and you have a recipe for weight gain.

Here are five guidelines to help you enjoy the holidays without derailing your commitment to health:

  1. Practice saying "No, thank you." This takes practice, especially if you feel like you're offending someone by not taking seconds or trying their famous holiday recipes. But being a little selfish will keep you happier and healthier overall. Have a rebuttal if someone is persistent with pushing food on you, such as, "I appreciate your offer and do enjoy your cooking, but I'm really trying not to overdo it."
  2. Splurge in small amounts on your absolute favorite holiday treats. It's what I like to call "save and savor." There's no need to completely deprive yourself of seasonal goodies, but save your calories for the foods you absolutely love. Skip the nuts and rolls, which you can eat any time of year, for a small piece of pie. And slow down to savor your food! You might be surprised at how slowing down allows you to enjoy rich foods in smaller amounts.
  3. Change the focus from food to fun with friends and family. Instead of sitting around all day surrounded by food, add other activities such as board games or taking a walk after mealtime. At parties, enjoy one plate of food and then shift your attention to mingling and conversation.
  4. Strengthen your support and reward system. Enlist extra support this time of year by joining a workout program or group, buy a few personal training sessions, or start a walking club with friends or co-workers. Need extra incentives? Set up a reward system for yourself such as treating yourself to a massage if you work out three times a week.
  5. Keep your long-term vision in front of you. Many people tell me this time of year they choose to fall off the wagon because it's just too hard to stay on track. But once the New Year arrives, they regret pushing their workouts to the side, not weighing themselves or tracking their food. Write down your goals. Why are they important to you? What do they mean for your life? Read them every day. Weigh yourself regularly, and keep a food log to reinforce healthy choices.

These guidelines can help make your holidays joyful without sacrificing your health. Here's to keeping you merry and well this holiday season!