© Leonid & Anna Dedukh - Fotolia.com

Need some motivation to stay on track with your diet this holiday season? These tips are easy to follow and won’t ruin your holiday fun!

  1. The holidays are only three of four days: I read this somewhere a few years ago and it really resonated with me. You’ve got Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you only overindulged on those four days, the damage to your waistline would be minimal. But we tend to treat the entire time period of Halloween through New Year’s as a food free-for-all. Try to walk away when someone dumps a platter of cookies from the local bakery in your lunchroom on December 15. Sure, you’re going to indulge occasionally, but keep track of how often it’s happening in these two last months of the year—it’s way more often than you think!
  2. Play favorites: Sucker for dessert? Or do you love a good holiday cocktail? Think about what you truly love and save your calories for that. If you are overeating and overdrinking in every situation, it’s going to add up to extra pounds. But if you only treat yourself to dessert, but skip an extra helping at dinner and that pre-dinner cocktail, you’ll be much better off.
  3. Weave in a little extra exercise: For a few years now, my husband and I have made a tradition of a nice, long brisk walk on Thanksgiving morning. Before all the binge eating begins, we start the day off with some good old-fashioned exercise and it feels great. The weather can often make walks and outdoor exercise tricky this time of year, but try to squeeze in that extra session at the gym or yoga workout if you can. Even a 15-minute workout video will make a difference!
  4. Bake your gifts: I love to bake and make homemade candy during the holiday season. And my list of must-makes seems to grow every year. But dozens of cookies and tins of fudge don’t stay in our house long—I give them away! I make a list of all the people who will be recipients of my holiday goodies—friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, teachers—and portion them out onto holiday plates to give away. I keep a few of our favorites, but most everything goes right out the door! So I get to enjoy my favorite hobby without the guilt.
  5. Quality control: When you sit down to a Thanksgiving table full of your favorite foods, by all means, fill your plate with your favorites. But, skip your not-so-favorite stuff. Don’t love cranberry sauce? Don’t have any. And as for dinner rolls—if you’re having homemade stuffing, they are completely unnecessary. You can have a dinner roll anytime! Skip it today and focus on the foods you really love that you don’t get very often. And don’t forget to watch your portions. Start small. If you’re still hungry, then go back for seconds.