Halloween candy bowls stuffed to the brim ready for a steady stream of trick-or-treaters and Thanksgiving feasts just around the corner … it’s the time of the year when culinary temptations seem to pop up every which way you turn! With pie displays greeting you the moment you enter a grocery store, and friends offering enticing seasonal treats, three options quickly become apparent. You can: 1) Say, “It’s the holidays! I’m going to dig right in and enjoy!” (Regrets may follow); 2) Forbid yourself from indulging in any of the goodies (Very healthy but not much fun); or 3) Be selective about when and where you dig in (May be easier said than done).

If you choose options two or three, it might be wise to enter the holiday season with an eating strategy. As they say, “Preparation is the key to success.” With that in mind, here are some tips to help you resist the tasty temptations, bolster your dedication to optimum health, and avoid seasonal weight gain.

Eat off of smaller plates

In the video above, Canadian model, YouTube star, and holistic nutritionist Valeria Lipovetsky encourages people to choose a smaller plate or bowl when serving themselves instead of using the standard large dinner plate. After all, when researchers looked at a collection of 56 scientific studies on the topic, they discovered that individuals who eat from smaller plates consume 30 percent less food on average. As our brains tend to associate the empty space on larger plates with smaller portions, simply moving your meal onto a smaller plate is a useful strategy when it comes to holiday eating.

Get a healthy head start

When invited to a holiday party, Lipovetsky recommends people eat something before arriving at the event. Drinking a healthy smoothie or chomping on a handful of nuts can help take the edge off your hunger so you don’t grab the first frosted cookie in sight. The mother of three also urges people to start their meal with lots of greens and other veggies whenever it’s offered. Doing so increases your nutritional intake and reduces your chances of overeating rich foods during the party. You can also get off to a great start by bringing a side dish or dessert to share. By bringing, say, a delicious and healthy dip that’s made without such rich ingredients, you can better control what you consume when away from home. Others might appreciate it as well!

Remember to move

It’s common for people to postpone their regular exercise routine during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to plop down on the couch for hours on end. Instead, incorporate exercise however you can. It can mean choosing to take the stairs instead of the escalator, partaking in the chores, throwing a ball in the backyard with your loved ones, going for a walk after a meal, or planning a hike or bike ride for a family outing.

Remember the 80-percent rule

Many experts urge people to be mindful as they eat and to chew their food slowly. After all, doing so improves digestion, helps maintain a healthy weight, and promotes a more satisfied feeling after meals. Along similar lines, some experts encourage people to stop eating when they’re 80-percent full. It’s a Japanese practice called “hara hachi bu.” According to registered dietician Susan Dopart, “It takes sometimes 15-20 meals to reset the muscle memory of the stomach to get used to less food, and people need to trust that will happen. Most are used to eating until full, which is past satiation and which keeps weight on.” For this reason, she advises her clients to eat until they are no longer hungry, rather than eating until they are full.

Keep food out of sight, out of mind.

If possible, serve meals restaurant-style, loading up the plate in the kitchen and then bringing it to the dining table rather than placing an assortment of enticing dishes on the table. When food is in sight, it encourages you to go in for seconds and thirds. Other ways to reduce temptation are to avoid sitting right next to the dessert table and to keep your home free from decadent foods. On the other hand, many people place a health magazine or two in a highly visible and accessible place at home to promote a healthy mindset during the season.

Events that revolve around food are common during the holidays as sharing meals is a great way to shower others with love and to celebrate togetherness. Regardless of your food choices, make sure to make the most of this special time and to cherish the relationships in your life.

 

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