It's that time of year again when our calendars fill up with luncheons, dinner parties, get-togethers and boxes of chocolates begin to magically appear in staff rooms everywhere. Let's face it, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the perfect storm of food, indulgence and weight gain all wrapped up like no other time of year.

Typically, once the Thanksgiving feasting begins and because the end of the year of so close, caution is often thrown to the wind and the indulging begins to pick up speed. By the time Christmas parties have started up, the treat-eating has gathered momentum resembling a snowball rolling downhill. The food free-for-all continues to pick up speed causing many to pack on at least an extra 10 pounds and then end up feeling a little snowman shaped by the time New Year's rolls around. What many people don't realize, is that there is a way to indulge without developing a snowman's waistline.

  1. Never arrive hungry. Having a small, PFC (protein, fat, carb) balanced portion at home before attending a party prevents that starving feeling that causes us to reach for those quick, processed foods just to fill the gap. Ever find yourself stationed at the chip bowl and wondering how you ate so many without even noticing? Even just having a protein bar in the car before entering the party helps keep your blood sugar balanced, allowing you to think clearly and make good choices.

  2. Always pair alcohol with food. If you choose to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, think of it as a starchy carbohydrate and balance that out with your protein and fat. Wine with a dinner of grilled salmon (protein and fat), salad (leafy greens are free) and steamed veggies (very low carb) is a great balance that keeps your body on track to burn fat, not store it. If alcohol is served alone and not with a meal, like at a cocktail party, look for a bowl of nuts (fat) or a meat (protein) and cheese (fat) tray to enjoy along with your wine. Even though the balance may not be as good as a dinner, it will still help to prevent the carb spike and subsequent fat storate.

  3. Be choosey. When dessert is presented, be discerning and choose one that is either your absolute favourite, or is something you have been wanting to try. In doing so, you will enjoy the indulgence much more than simply throwing caution to the wind and sampling as many treats as possible using the “it's only once a year..” rationale as an excuse. Trust me, you will thoroughly enjoy and savour the treat that you consciously search out and look forward to. And you'll enjoy it even more when you're not looking to lose 10 to 15 pounds every January 1.

  4. Offer to bring something. The first three tips are great for those who are well into their weight loss journey, and/or living the program, but for those who have just begun their weight loss journey, having some safe food options that work with where they are in their journey can literally mean the difference between success and failure for some people.

  5. Enjoy your indulgence! Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it and do not feel guilty. Enjoying our favourite foods, even treat foods, is part of life.

By following these five steps and applying the principles whenever your health starts to snowball, you will find gaining weight over the holiday season, or any season for that matter, is no longer an issue.

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