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Is a little holiday indulgence so bad?

If you're like most people, the time between Halloween and New Year's Eve will result in weight gain. We're picking at leftover Halloween candy, eating big holiday meals (complete with seconds), sampling numerous buffets at office parties, and drinking and overeating at multiple holiday parties. Not to mention all the cookies and treats that you make - some to share, some to enjoy yourself - right?

The average weight gain over those months is 2-3 pounds, which doesn't seem so bad, does it? Well, considering you just spent two months eating a lot of unhealthy fat and sugar and the more sugar you eat, the more you crave it, it can be bad!  And, even if you are disciplined about your post-holiday eating it will take 5 months to lose those pounds!  How do you shut off the cravings come January 1?  

Well, you could avoid the stuff altogether, but will you? Probably not. If skipping the indulgences isn't realistic for you, you should at least have a plan that helps you do it in moderation. 

Here are 10 tips that can help you enjoy your holidays without overdoing it.

1. Exercise! If you're already committed to exercising, keep going! Just 1-2 workouts/week will help you maintain your weight. Don't let the busy season break you from a routine that's hard to get back to. If you're not exercising, simply start by walking 20-30 minutes each day. If you're already considering a fitness plan for January 1, get started now - think how much better you will feel!

2. Rest up! Did you know that on average, adults who didn't get a good night's sleep will consume an extra 300 calories and choose higher fat foods the next day? So, if you plan to attend a party or event, be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before.

3. Bring a healthy dish or two with you to a party or event. This way if you're faced with poor options you at least have something healthy to eat before having anything else.

4. Eat a small, healthy meal before going out. If you arrive at a party on an empty stomach, you'll head directly to the buffet table to fuel up and chances are you'll load up on more food than you need. 

5. Survey the buffet table and start with the healthiest items first. Know what healthy options are there. Don't feel compelled to take a "little of everything." Studies show that you consume the most food on your "first pass" through the buffet line, so load your plate with healthy items like salad, lean protein, and vegetables. 

6. Choose a salad or dessert-sized plate instead of a dinner plate. The average calories consumed at a holiday dinner or buffet is 3,000! If you use a smaller plate, you'll take smaller portions and eat about 40% less.

7. When at a party, position yourself away from the food so you aren't tempted to "nibble" while chatting.

8. Go easy on the alcohol - it's loaded with carbs, sugar, and calories. Plus, the more you drink, the more likely you are to take on an "Oh, the heck with it!" attitude when it comes to eating. For every adult beverage you have, drink 2 servings of water before the next beverage. 

9. When shopping or running errands, eat a filling meal before you go. You'll be less tempted to grab fast food or stop by Mrs. Fields for cookies!

10. Keep yourself in check by trying on your favorite jeans at once or twice a week. If they're getting tighter, dial back the indulgence right away!

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