At this time of year, all I can think about is eating — and eating a lot. Whether it's Thanksgiving, the string of holiday parties coming down the road or Christmas dinner and New Year's festivities, most of us will be doing some serious indulging with our loved ones, friends and colleagues.
We all know the downside of all this celebrating: weight gain.
Experts claim that the average American can gain up to five pounds during the holidays, but some of us will gain a little more. And if you're trying to shed pounds like me, you fear that the holiday season (and lack of willpower) will sabotage your weight-loss goals.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to. The key is having a plan and sticking to it.
Here's some sound and realistic advice:
• Speak your truth: Not only can the holidays sabotage your weight loss, but so can your family members with their peer pressure and fatty food preparation. Let folks know from the jump that you are trying to watch your weight and that you appreciate their support. And if you’re the one in the kitchen, let your family know that you might be making tweaks with the recipes, so if they are expecting green beans in lard with bacon, this year it might not be happening.
• Don't stuff yourself: Overfilling your plate really isn't necessary or ideal — most likely there will be leftovers for you to snack on later on. Try eating smaller portions and eating more slowly to savor your meal. Studies have shown that people who take their time feel satisfied sooner and tend to not overeat.
• Tweak your mama's recipes: While foods that are drenched in lard, butter and grease definitely have an appeal, it's OK to make changes in order to reduce calories. And almost every dish can be modified to reduce calories and fats without sacrificing too much flavor; you just have to do your research. Also try to add at least two healthy side dishes such as a Greek salad or grilled veggies to the mix to try to encourage your guests and yourself to eat healthier.
• Get a workout in: Hey, I get it, you just got your hair done, or all you want to do is sit down and watch football, but some form of exercise can make all the difference. If you live in a warm area, just walking for an hour outside is helpful. Or you can hit the gym for a quick run. And if you don't want to leave the house, on most cable On-Demand channels you can order free workout programs ranging from Pilates, hip hop dance and strength training.
• Just say no: Yeah, I'm pretty sure you are not trying to hear this, but just by passing on that gravy, those two rolls, that second glass of red wine or those multiple beers, you can cut almost 250 calories or more from your meal. But also don't beat yourself up during your meal obsessing about everything you’re putting in your mouth. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not make you develop an eating disorder.
(Photo: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)