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Eating habits around the holidays

Do you feel like you pack on the pounds every holiday season? You’re not alone. A lot of people blame the holidays for their poor eating habits through winter. But there are ways to avoid guilt.

First: Don’t Stress (But Also, Don’t Spiral)

A few days of eating heavily are just “cheat days.” It’s not going to make you gain weight.

It can be unhealthy to start thinking of food as something you need to deprive yourselfglenn-carstens-peters-RLw-UC03Gwc-unsplash of. The holidays are about celebration, being joyful, enjoying time with family, and enjoying the food they made.

So, give yourself a few days to overindulge. The trick is not to let it spiral.

What most people experience is they “fall off the wagon” with unhealthy eating during Thanksgiving… and continue through the new year. Plan for a few cheat days, but know when they end.

Don’t Forget to Stay Active

Really, winter weight gets packed on not only because you’re eating a lot of delicious food, but also because you’re not moving around a lot. It’s cold, everyone’s busy, and you’d rather stay in with a warm fire.

But you should make it a point to stay active if you want to maintain your good health. Staying active has a lot of benefits. Though maintaining weight might be 90 percent diet, exercise also elevates your mood and distracts you, both of which can make you feel less likely to overeat.

Control Portions, Not Foods

If you want to continue on your diet throughout the holidays, an easy way is to control portions, rather than foods. Don’t deny yourself something that you really want — just take a smaller amount.

Most people find that, over time, they get used to eating less. Eventually, you may find that your former portion sizes are just too much.

Talk to Friends and Family

Let people know that you’re trying to eat healthily this holiday season. They’ll be less likely to try to foist a second (or third… or fourth) helping of food on you.

When you have the support of friends and family (and the accountability to yourself), it’s a lot easier to stay on track. A gentle reminder that the holidays are over and that it’s time to eat healthily again can also be a benefit.

Make a Plan for After The Holidays

Having a clear plan can also help. Know when your “cheat days” are going to end and make a plan for what you’ll eat next. Often, people end up gorging themselves on leftovers for weeks because that’s all they have.

Instead, meal prep! After the holidays, separate everything into meal tins and make sure that you have an appropriate serving size. This will make it easy to use up your leftovers while still remaining on track to good health.

Above all, just don’t worry so much. Worrying about your eating can actually have the opposite effect. You worry so much that you focus on what you’re denying yourself — and then you eat everything you can to compensate.

In reality, the holidays shouldn’t hurt your diet. A few days of eating what you want will not sabotage you. But you do need to have the control to get back to your original plans.