Most people love the food around this holiday season. For some people it is the BEST part. You have Halloween candy followed by the huge Thanksgiving turkey dinner with extravagant side dishes and scrumptious pies. Then December is one big food fest with parties at work, with friends and then culminating on Christmas day. Christmas celebrations always seem to linger until New Year’s Eve and then we finally stop eating so much on the 1st (or at least try to). Nobody likes to be held to strict food rules around the holidays, but if you don’t have some rules or guidelines to follow it will be very easy to gain quite a few pounds in a short amount of time. Here are 4 easy steps I have found very helpful to avoid gaining any weight but still enjoy the food and time with friends and family. Focus on vegetables. Starting in October I make sure to add in more vegetables to our family dinners and my lunches. We normally eat a lot of vegetables, but during this time I make sure to add in a few more. I also make an effort to cut back a bit on starches and other places calories sneak in (for instance nuts or cheese). If vegetables are the main focus of your dish you will naturally decrease calories slightly. This helps make up for any increase in calories from candy or other treats. Identify your looming potential pitfalls. The saying goes ‘What gets measured gets managed.’ You can also say ‘What gets identified gets managed.’ If you are at work and you forgot to bring your lunch and find yourself starving, the holiday bin of caramel covered popcorn in the breakroom is going to look very appetizing. Recognize where the potential pitfalls are for you. Take a minute to think about work and food that is usually there during the holidays or any parties or festivities you plan to attend. Once you have those pitfalls identified, create a plan to avoid falling into the traps. Make sure you bring healthy food with you to work so you don’t find yourself overly hungry. Have a plan to eat well before the parties so you don’t arrive too hungry. Allow yourself some of the foods you really enjoy, but leave the foods you can go without. That’s an important point: Often we eat foods during the holiday season that we don’t really want. Be picky! Keep up your exercise routine. Exercising during the holidays is good for your waistline but also for your mindset. The holidays can be stressful even though they are enjoyable. Make sure you don’t skip your workouts. They will help keep your stress level down so that you can have more fun and not stress eat. Exercise will also help offset some of the extra calories you may consume. Now, we don’t want to get into a ‘working off all those extra calories’ mentality (because that can lead to a nasty binge/exercise cycle), but you do want to be aware that exercise is important during the holidays and try to avoid skipping workouts. I hope these tips helped and you now have a good plan for eating during the coming month and a half!