When it comes to the holiday season, my clients are often stressed out about how to maintain their diets in the face of such delicious temptations as cookies, pie and cocktails at parties and family gatherings.
But these treats are part of what make this time of year so fun, so don't ruin the time off for yourself by guilting yourself over every bite. The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of friends and family, so go ahead! Eat, drink, and be merry – just don't overdo it!
Here are my favorite tips that I arm my clients with when they head off into the holiday season:
1. Never Show Up Hungry!One of the most common mistakes people make is starving themselves all day and "saving their calories" for a big dinner and dessert. This can backfire on you in a number of important ways. If you arrive starving, you're going to eat whatever's in sight. Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day helps you avoid showing up ravenous and actually speeds up your metabolism.
2. Our Eyes are Bigger than Our StomachsStudies show that the larger the plate or bowl we use, the more we eat. Using a smaller plate, like a salad plate, for dinner will really help you be aware of your portion sizes and help you eat less as a result.
3. Go Easy on the AlcoholI'm not being a total Scrooge and saying you can't have a drink or two, I'm just suggesting that you be careful. Not only are alcoholic drinks loaded with calories that don't fill us up (and I mean loaded – 1 cup of eggnog can have 350 calories and 19 grams of fat!), but they also lower our inhibitions, which can lead to mindless eating. Good alternatives to traditional egg nog are Silk's Soymilk Nog (180 calories and 4g of fat per cup), or Vitasoy's Holly Nog (120 calories and 2g of fat).
4. Be Selective with the SweetsWhen it comes to the dessert table, stick to your favorites. Don't waste calories on those pecan sandies that you only sort-of like. Try to really savor each bite of the ones you pick.
5. Out of Sight, Out of MindInstead of standing by the table where all the treats are laid out, hang out in another room or farther away from the temptation. Better yet, bring the treats out for dessert only and then put them away. If they're not sitting out, you're less likely to mindlessly graze all night.
6. Keep MovingStay active during the holidays. Take a walk with your family to see the neighbors' decorations, or take a brisk walk around the block with your friends. Walking after a meal can burn calories and even aid in digestion. Don't, however, fall for the “I'll exercise it off later” routine. Going for a run today does not compensate for the three extra helpings you ate yesterday. In fact, sudden bouts of activity to compensate for extra calorie intake can actually increase your hunger while increasing your likelihood for injury.
Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak on Hollywood's hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak