This holiday season, follow these guidelines provided by Lisa Graff, MS, RD, LMNT, ACSM-CPT, Madonna ProActive's on-site registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist.
Focus on balance rather than restriction.
Being too restrictive over the holidays can make it even harder to say "no" when there is a holiday party or event. It is OK to have desserts and candies as long as they are small portions and balanced with plenty of other nutritious foods. Choose special desserts and side dishes that are only available at the holidays.
Look at the big picture.
One unhealthy meal or day is not a big deal. It is important to not get down on yourself for minor splurges. Try marking on your calendar the dates of all holiday functions. When there are a couple in close proximity, pick only one of them to allow yourself to have one or two special treats.
Be physically active.
Exercise helps reduce cravings for sweets and desserts while improving overall health. And it makes you want to eat better to keep from canceling out all the hard work you did. It also helps you burn those extra calories by increasing your metabolism.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Candy dishes, M&M dispensers and cookie platters encourage us to grab a few pieces each time we walk by. Those calories can add up in a hurry with seven peanut M&Ms being 100 calories and cookies ranging from 150 to 450 calories each.
Take your food to a table away from the buffet table. Hanging out by the buffet can lead to all night grazing and mindless eating. Focus on enjoying conversations with the people around you rather than the food.
Beware of beverages.
Eggnogs, punches and other sweetened and alcoholic beverages provide a lot of calories without filling you up or keeping you satisfied.
Broaden your focus.
Make the holiday about more than food. Focus on the people and relationships that make this time of year special. Start a new tradition that does not involve food, such as going to look at Christmas lights, playing a game of touch football or building a snowman.