Don’t Be a Stuffed Turkey: 4 Tips for Savoring the Holiday Spread Smartly

Holiday time is upon us, and with it comes various challenges for those of us who want to eat healthfully and stay trim. Sugary snacks abound and good cheer overflowing, combined with shorter daylight hours during which to burn those calories off…. it’s no surprise that people tend to fall off the health wagon this time of the year.

Interestingly, the average person gains only one pound during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, debunking the 5-10 pound myth. The real danger is in the fact that most of us never lose that pound. 10 holiday seasons later, and….you do the math.

Well folks, this is your year to take back control of your waistline. If you approach each holiday gathering with a mindful attitude and a little self-discipline, you might be impressed by how simple it can be to tame your inner glutton. Squander the temptation to gain that seemingly-innocent pound by sticking to these 4 rules.

Set Your Boundaries

You’re a grown-up; You can decide when to splurge and when to decline. For instance, it’s okay to allocate yourself slivers of all 4 of Aunt Mimi’s homemade pies at Thanksgiving, but you will make a deal with yourself not to have any holiday cookies at the office. Be realistic for 5 short weeks, and you’ll be rewarded with a guilt-free New Year’s Day.

Crave Alternative Snacks

Whenever I look at sugary junk food, regardless of how much love was put into creating it, I repeat to myself the mantra that it really isn’t that enjoyable, and certainly isn’t worth the calories. You can establish this mindset just as easily. Distract yourself from the cookies and candies that always seem to be around during the holidays by keeping healthy-yet-satisfying snacks like carrots, celery and hummus on hand. Maybe portion some nuts and have them at your desk.

Play a Trick on Yourself

If you’re like my spouse Michael, and you have an uncontrollable need for the sweet stuff, you don’t have to deprive yourself altogether. Do what he does to keep that savage craving under control during the holidays: Put one square of very exceptional bittersweet chocolate onto your tongue, and concentrate as it melts in your mouth. Meditate on it literally, deriving all of the pleasure that chocolate can provide for the brain….the texture, the tangy sweetness, the complexity. Once the dopamine begins to rush through, you’ve fooled your brain into believing you’ve just pigged out on decadent goodies. Meanwhile, you’ve only consumed 30 calories!

Preempt the Temptation

In the 80’s, they used to market appetite suppressants. Then we woke up to the harmful effects of these absurd products, and returned to the natural form of taming the appetite: eating actual food. If you fear you’ll be tempted to over-indulge at a holiday gathering, simply have a healthy snack before you leave the house. By the time you arrive, your belly will be sending the signal to your brain that you are satisfied. Happy Thanksgiving!

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