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. Temptations are everywhere and all but all gift-wrapped under the tree.

From the moment that Thanksgiving turkey is carved, until the ball falls in Times Square on New Year's Eve, it seems many throw caution to the wind, simply writing off the holiday weight gain as “something that just happens about this time of year”. And by the time Christmas parties get going, sweet-treat sampling and over-eating begin gathering momentum much like a snowball rolling downhill. This food free-for-all continues to pick up speed and by the time New Year's rolls around, Santa isn't the only one who needs to lose a few around the middle. What many people don't realize, is that there is a way to indulge without feeling like Scrooge or looking like Santa.

  1. Make a decision. Decide before you go whether you are going to stay on plan as much as possible or make it an off-plan meal. Making a decision is powerful and for those who have either just started their weight loss journey or are not where they want to be yet and are not comfortable straying from the program, deciding ahead of time to stay on plan will keep you there.

  2. Never arrive hungry. Having a small, PFC (protein, fat, carb) balanced meal at home before attending a party fills the gap and prevents that starving feeling that causes us to reach for those quick, processed foods our bodies crave when we go too long between meals. Ever find yourself parked at the chip bowl and wondering how you ate so many without even noticing? Even just having a good quality protein shake or bar in the car on the way to the party helps keep your blood sugar balanced and allows you to think clearly and make good choices.

  3. Always pair alcohol with food. Alcohol is a carbohydrate and behaves much the same, blood sugar wise as starchy/processed carbs. Eliminating the starchy carbs (potato, bread, pasta, rice) and pairing it with a protein and fat balances out that carb, preventing the spike in blood sugar and subsequent fat storage. 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 find the meat and cheese (protein and fat) tray to enjoy along with your wine. Even if the balance you create is not as good as during a sit-down dinner, it will still help to prevent the carb spike and minimize fat storage.

  4. 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. If nothing jumps out at you, no thank-you is always an option. In doing so, you will set yourself up to enjoy the treat and minimize the carnage. 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 only leads to regret and a feeling of let down. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

This holiday season, why not try putting these six tips to work for you. You'll find gaining weight over the holiday season, or any season for that matter, is no longer an issue.

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