Here’s an unpleasant reality check: The traditional American Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner packs an average of 3,000 calories. Considering that the recommended daily caloric intake for women ranges from 2,000 (over age 25) to 1,850 (over age 50) this puts one meal at approximately a third more than a full day’s requirement. And that’s just one meal!

According to the Calorie Control Council (CCC), the true average weight gain is 1 to 3 pounds, which doesn’t sound like that much until you realize that we’re talking about a four-week period, which means many people are packing on almost a pound a week. Also, research shows people who are already overweight gain considerably more, on average 5 pounds. The other problem, the CCC says, is that most people fail to get those pounds off after the holidays.

Here are some tips, to help you enjoy the holidays without the need for a diet or weight loss program afterwards.

  1. Plan or Set the Stage

Spontaneity is not your friend when it comes to weight loss. When we get hungry, we reach for whatever’s available. And around the holidays, the choices put in front of you are even more tempting than usual. Maybe your contribution to a holiday dinner could be a veggie dish or salad – which you could then eat a goodly portion of. Or if wine is your weakness, perhaps bring an alternative beverage, such as flavored fizzy water, so you have something else you like to drink available as well.

  1. Mind Over Matter

Changing the way you eat, in addition to what you eat, is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t become another holiday weight gain statistic. One of the best ways to do this, experts say, is with conscious or mindful eating; eating the foods you love, eating them slowly while tasting and enjoying every bite.

  1. Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat

If family expectations are an issue, there are lots of tricky ways around that. Some people take a small portion and eat it slowly, so it looks like they have a full plate throughout the meal. Some people say they’ve “developed a food allergy” to explain why they’re skipping the bread and pie. After all, going gluten-free is such a trend nowadays, it barely raises eyebrows.

  1. Don’t Punish Yourself

If you do overindulge, let it go. Recent brain research shows that beating yourself up for a “slip” in healthy habit sets the stage for a full tumble off the wagon. Instead, focus on what you did right, and compliment yourself. (Creating a positive feedback loop is one of the best ways to insure a healthy habit sticks.) Saying “wow, you said no to that third glass of wine, good for you!” goes a lot further than “Geez I shouldn’t have eaten that second piece of pie.” Now, turn your focus to the healthy ways you’re going to take care of yourself tomorrow. Maybe an evening walk is in order?

  1. Go to Bed on Time

There’s a natural tendency to let our sleep routines go haywire over the holidays. We talk into the night with old friends and family, or we hit the bar or sleep in just because we can. But recent research ties weight loss to keeping a regular sleep schedule.

Whatever tip you decide to adopt, do so with gusto and have yourself a wonderful guiltless holiday!


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