Tips to keep off excess holiday pounds

Enjoy a Guilt-Free Holiday Season

by Shaunna Privratsky

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The holiday season is fast approaching. With the onset of Thanksgiving, the whirlwind of eating, decorating, eating, buying, eating, baking, wrapping, and eating begins. Whether you are trying to stick to your weight loss goals, or just want to avoid those heavy holiday pounds that seem to appear overnight, try these tips for some guilt-free gobbling.

Most Americans wouldn't dream of having Thanksgiving without turkey and all the trimmings. It would be like New Years without the countdown, Christmas without presents, or the Fourth of July without fireworks.

The holidays are stuffed with temptations and full of forbidden treats, but you shouldn't deprive yourself entirely. The occasional treat is fine. Just keep your long-term healthy living goals in mind. You can stay on track this Thanksgiving by following these ten guidelines.

  1. Avoid starving yourself all day. When you finally sit down to eat, you'll gobble up everything in sight. Don't skip breakfast or lunch, and grab a healthy snack to take the edge off your hunger.
  2. Plan to partake. Don't invite failure by denying yourself the special dishes that are only served on Thanksgiving. Savor each bite and plan on having some of everything. If you are worried about overdoing it, take smaller portions or don't eat your least favorite dishes. Maybe cutting out the extra dish of party mix before the meal will leave room for Grandma's famous pumpkin pie or Mom's perfect potatoes.
  3. Lighten up the recipes. Whether you are hosting the feast or just bringing some side dishes, lighten up the recipes with healthier substitutes. Heavy fats and creams can be replaced with lighter versions and baked goods can easily be converted to healthier alternatives. Unless you mention it, no one will be the wiser.
  4. Slow down for that satisfied feeling. When you sit down to the Thanksgiving table, decide which dishes you have to try. This may eliminate some of the dishes. Do you really have to have all three types of potatoes, or will just the sweet potato casserole do? Start with small portions and savor each bite. Eat slowly and take frequent breaks. Remember that it takes about twenty minutes for your brain to signal that you're full. Don't wait for that uncomfortably bloated feeling.
  5. Practice saying no. Be creative in case your well-meaning loved ones try to pressure you into eating more than you wanted, or trying something you want to forgo. A good line is "No thank you. I'll have to pass on more apple pie because I'm so full from the delicious meal."
  6. Drink moderately. Alcoholic beverages add empty calories, so offer alternatives. To reduce alcohol intake, use low calorie beverages as mixers or try sparkling water with a twist of lemon, hot apple cider, soda or milk.
  7. Pack it up. To avoid devouring all the tempting leftovers, bag it, wrap it up, and freeze extras soon after the meal. If you don't want too many leftovers lingering, send some portions home with guests.
  8. Get moving. Combat the post-Thanksgiving daze with movement. Take a walk around the block, drive to a nearby park and let the kids race around, or start a backyard game of baseball, tag or touch football. You could even get your relatives to pitch in and rake up the last of the leaves, if everyone is feeling particularly energetic.
  9. Control emotional eating. Thanksgiving is traditionally the beginning of holiday eating. The holiday season kicks off and can usher in stress. Focus on your overall goals and learn to relax. Eat when you're hungry, not because of negative emotions or too much stress. Recognize that Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate your family and friends, not a license to stuff your face.
  10. Make good choices for a happy Thanksgiving. Changing old habits and learned eating behaviors are hard, especially during the holidays. But starting off at Thanksgiving by keeping your goals in mind, practicing moderation and daily exercise can get your holidays off to a great start.

This year, take a different approach to Thanksgiving. By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to guilt-free gobbling. You'll be thankful you did.

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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