Dieting Tips: How To Stay Thin During The Holidays

Use this advice to sail through the holiday season without destroying your diet. Information on moderation, burning calories, exercise and fat free alternatives.

One of the biggest challenges to people on a weight loss program is facing the end of winter. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are, or what you personally celebrate-- if you are not a hermit, you will be swept up in the holiday food frenzy. From mid November to January, it seems that discussions of food abound, people everywhere are pushing tempting treats, and more food ends up on your plate at parties and dinners than is necessary to feed a large family in a third world nation for a month.

What can you do to muttle through that dreaded danger zone without completely destroying all the effort you have put into starting and maintaining your diet? Try some of these tips, and you'll be able to face the scale in January without fear.

DON'T GET CAUGHT HUNGRY

Don't starve yourself all day so that you can have more food selections at dinner. In fact, the worst thing you can do for your diet is go anywhere hungry. When you're hungry you you feel miserable, and you'll be much more likely to give into temptation, or completely over indulge once you do start eating.

If you are going to a holiday occasion at which you know food will be the main event, don't walk into a room full of delicious aromas and tables overflowing with your childhood favorites on an empty stomach. Eat a large but healthy, diet-friendly lunch or brunch that day, and have a snack before you leave the house. It will help you keep your mind off of how much food you can eat, and allow you to enjoy the company of friends and family.

KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS HANDY

If you find your co-workers are celebrating the holiday spirit by spreading candy canes and chocolate sweets around the office like confetti, arm yourself. Keep snacks that are allowed on your diet: light popcorn, carrot sticks, fresh fruit, low carb chips, or sugarless candy. If you do find yourself wanting to nosh on something, you'll be much more likely to give into temptation if you're hungry and there is nothing else around to eat but junk food. Don't let yourself fall into a candy trap-- when you're offered something you're not supposed to eat, turn it down, walk away, and get out your own snacks.



FIND REASONABLE FACIMILIES

Is there a certain food that you love far to much? Do you know you'll have to face it this season, and are you worried that you'll lose (or gain) in the showdown? If that's the case, find a satisfying substitute that is permissable on your diet, and enjoy that instead.

For example, if chocolate candies sitting in a big basket at the front of the office are driving you nuts, see if you can't find a sugarless or low-carb chocolate breakfast bar. Ifyou're really going to break, it's better done with a diabetic bar at 90 calories than a Snickers at 475 calories. If you've gone low-carb and will miss those mashed potatoes with your turkey, look for a nice baked mashed cauliflower recipe. Going to miss that rich chocolate mousse that was your mom's traditional dessert? Is it the crunchy munchies you crave? Replace the sour cream and onion chips with popcorn tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and lightly seasoned with onion salt, or grab a bag of carrot sticks in place of pretzle rods.

Okay, so maybe that sugarless chocolate pudding and fat-free whipped topping is just not as good as your mom's traditional chocolate mousse pie-- but it might be better than nothing. Whatever that food is that causes you to lose all control, find some kind of substitute that reminds you of the flavor, texture, or aroma that drove you wild, and try to get a bit of the satisfaction.

BRING YOUR OWN DISH

If you're going to a holiday gathering and you are on a special diet, bring a dish of your favorite diet-permitted meal to share. This is especially true if you know your family makes the same fattening menu year after year, or if you don't know if your hosts are very health conscious around the holiday season. By bringing something you made yourself, you are assured to have at least one low calorie (low carb, low fat, diatetic, vegan) dish to make the main portion of your dinner.

DON'T COMPLETELY DEPRIVE YOURSELF

You don't have to abstain from everything that isn't 100% within your diet. In fact, complete deprivation can lead to depression, frustration, and, often in a diet, it can lead to failure. Don't punish yourself. Part of dieting is learning to eat right and take things in moderation. If you know of a couple of things that really make you feel like you're losing control, steer clear of them, but as long as you have been sticking to your diet and exercise program, don't forget to treat yourself to a little endulgence every once in a while.

When you do endulge, go for quality, not quantity. Pass on anything that doesn't hurt to pass up. Take very small portions of those things you absolutely love. Take small bites, and savor every one. Make it an experience, and enjoy it for the moment.

FIND A FOOD-FREE ZONE

When you do go to a party or dinner, try to find an area not close to the foods. Don't spend a lot of time staring at the table of decadent desserts if you can help it. After you've enjoyed your meal, and maybe a little treat, get up and walk away from the table. Get rid of your dish. Sit as far away as you can from the food and mingle, go help in the kitchen, or get outside for a breath of fresh air. All that food lying around can sometimes make you feel overwheled with desire, but once you've satisfied your appetite it is time to stop thinking about seconds. Find somewhere you can go for cover.

SCHEDULE MORE EXERCISE SESSIONS

As the holidays draw closer, check your schedule and set aside more time to exercise. If you usually walk for 45 minutes per day, make it an hour. If you work out at the gym three days a week, set aside time to go four or even five times. Even though time is tight during the busy season, scheduling extra exercise sessions will have many benefits that will help during the holidays. Additional exercise will raise your energy levels and lower your stress levels, which will help you keep in high spirits and tackle all of the challenging chores coming your way. That will make you feel good about yourself, and when you feel good about yourself it is easier to remain positive and stick to your diet. In addition, extra exercise will burn up that many more calories, giving you more leeway for a higher calorie intake so that you don't have to feel guilty about that buttered roll or sliver of cheesecake.

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