December is here, and it's that time of year again - the holidays are upon us! For millions of people, the holiday season brings joy, out-of-town guests, and time with loved ones - but the holidays can also be difficult on a healthy nutrition and exercise plan.
With Christmas parties and holiday events that last all month long, it can be difficult to pass up those great (and fattening!) holiday foods that you may only taste once a year.
But don't fear! There are a few things you can do to indulge during the holiday season, while still staying on the healthy track - and this week begins a brand new challenge period covering all sorts of aspects of holiday health, including those ever-tempting holiday parties.
It may be the oldest trick in the book, but just like you don't want to go to a grocery storey hungry, the same can be said for Christmas parties. Before you head out, snack on healthy, filling foods - anything from oatmeal, to vegetables, or a handful of nuts. You don't need to have a full meal before a party, and you can still leave room for a few treats, but with something healthy in your stomach, you're less likely to go after those high-calorie party staples.
Water, not alcohol! Assuming you've got a designated driver, there's nothing wrong with a little bit of alcohol, but if you're trying to watch your weight during the holidays, get to know your water bottle. Water has not only been shown time and again to improve metabolism, it also tides over food cravings and helps avoid overindulgence. Have a glass of water before meals to lose some of that difficult temptation!
Think small. No, smaller.
Healthy or not, the holidays are a good time to indulge a little bit - with "little" being the key word. Instead of gorging yourself on a piece of cake the size of your head, go for the dessert of appetizer plates when you're looking to indulge. A smaller plate means a smaller portion size, and an easier way to ration out your indulgences and calories - enjoying the food without going overboard.
If you're really ambitious, take your first small plate and fill it with only the healthy stuff - fruits, veggies, and maybe a few crackers. If you've got an appetite after that, go back and enjoy something a little less healthy - knowing you missed the urge to overindulge.
Put yourself in position
If you're prone to overindulge, standing near the buffet table may tempt you to graze a little more than you planned. So, position yourself for success! Turn your back to the table or walk away, and focus on the friends - not the food.
We touched on alcohol briefly earlier, and even though a little bit is fine for most people, it's also laden with calories. If you're trying to cut down the calories and stick with the healthy eating plan, try to stay away from the bar as best you can during the holidays (and, all others times, too!).
It's not easy - and it's not always fun - but you can have a few indulgences and enjoy the tastes of the holiday season while still sticking to your health goals. Be realistic, take it slowly, and set small goals that you can follow - and you'll be better than you can imagine.
About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook .
You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.