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How to Enjoy Food Without Guilt this Holiday Season

The Holidays bring with it love, laughter and cheer, and yes... more food than you can eat. We may, as with every year, come out of this with a few more inches around our bellies than we did before, but the trick is to make sure we can rub our bellies with satisfaction rather than regret, and be confident that we can lose those pounds and inches right after the holidays wind down. Here are some strategies to maximize enjoyment and minimize the guilt as we eat, drink and party with friends and family this Christmas!

1. Prepare yourself by establishing a foundation. You need a comfortable healthy place to fall back to when all the holiday madness is over. If you haven't started doing basic changes like letting go of processed food, avoiding added sugar and adding more vegetables to your diet, then it's not too late. Go for it.

2. When eating at a party…

…Prioritize non-starchy vegetables so that before anything else you're sure to have consumed nutrient-dense food. If it's a potluck, volunteer to bring the veggies! …Be selective. Scan what's available and pick out dishes you're truly curious about, or that you're sure you will enjoy. Just because there's free food doesn't mean you should load your plate like there's no tomorrow. …Drink, but choose your poison wisely. Remember that alcohol is always "first to burn", meaning that before your body even gets around to using glucose for energy, it has to burn off alcohol first. If you must have a glass or two, opt for something with antioxidant benefits at least, like red wine or whiskey. Avoid sugary cocktails.

3. Be mindful. Eat with purpose! Savor what you're having. If you're not completely enjoying your food, then put the fork down. Stop when you're not quite full but no longer hungry.

4. Don't give in to pressure to eat something unhealthy, unless it's from mom. :) Our friends or colleagues will always be urging us to try dessert or share a platter of chips with them. You don't have to, really. Be the role model for everybody else instead! But if you absolutely can't say no -- like when someone very dear to you prepares their specialty dish with utmost love and care - then by all means, have some and give them a big appreciative hug.

Remember as well that this Christmas, one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your loved ones is the gift of health. It’s fine to veer off the path a bit in the name of Christmas spirit, but make sure to stay in control, and have a plan to get back on track. Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

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