7 Steps to Healthy Holiday Eating

The holiday season is here. Decorating your home, buying and wrapping gifts, writing and sending holiday cards, attending parties, cooking and baking may be a few of the seasonal activities you enjoy.

However, the colder weather, shorter days and delicious treats make it much more challenging for many of us to eat healthy or exercise as frequently as we would like.

More: Holiday Feast Survival Guide

Make the decision this holiday season to NOT be a "typical" American who gains weight from October through December by facing this challenge head on. With the right mindset and attitude you can avoid those extra pounds and enjoy yourself this holiday season!

Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

Tip No.1: Be realistic. Maintaining your weight is more realistic than weight loss during the holiday season. Set goals that are attainable.

Tip No.2: Be a conscious or mindful eater. Stay tuned to your physical feeling of fullness and stop eating when satisfied or comfortably full. This takes practice, so be patient as you re-learn how to listen to what your stomach is telling your brain.

The more you listen to your body and honor your fullness cues, the more likely you will accomplish your health goals this holiday season and the better you will feel about yourself.

Tip No.3: Do not deprive yourself. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats in moderation while simultaneously filling your plate the majority of the time with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Tip No.4: Have a different mindset this holiday season. Enjoy your family and friends company first and the food as a pleasant accompaniment. People make the holidays a joyous time.

More: 10 Strategies to Prevent Holiday Bulge

Tip No.5: If you do have a setback, such as over-indulging at a holiday party, don't despair and don't give up. One setback will not lead to weight gain. Use this step backward as a learning experience in order to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.

Ask yourself, "What triggered me to overeat?" Was it because you were stressed or eating mindlessly? Perhaps you went for seconds even though you were truly satisfied after your first helping. Then think of how you may have prevented overeating.

For example, arriving at the party, you may have felt ravenous, grabbed a plate, and quickly filled it with the first foods that looked tasty. At the end of the buffet table, you noticed your favorite side dish or dessert and after finishing your first portion you returned for a larger-than-normal helping. This put you "over the edge" resulting in you feeling "stuffed" and guilty.

Tip No.6: Realize that arriving to a party hungry may not be a good idea because you are less likely to make healthy, reasonable food choices. A few hours before the next party, have a small, healthy snack such as yogurt and fruit or vegetables and hummus to take the "ravenous" edge off your hunger pangs.

Then, at the party, you can try a small sampling of each food that looks delicious without going overboard. Viewing overeating experiences with a different mindset and learning from them will enable you to successfully adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and feel positive about your relationship with food this holiday season.

Tip No.7: If you happen to over-indulge, do not skip your next meal to "make up" for the larger meal you ate the night before. Instead, enjoy a lower calorie meal consisting of leaner protein, more fruits and vegetables (the fiber will help you feel full), and try to increase your physical activity.

Practice these strategies this holiday season to maintain your weight and feel great about your decisions and yourself.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

More: 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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