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18 Ways to Stay on Track over the Holidays

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Congratulations on making it through all of those Thanksgiving temptations! Now, it's time to face the upcoming barrage of holiday parties over the next month. Between the office buffets, neighborhood open houses, family gatherings, religious festivities, and community get-togethers, sticking to a healthy eating plan can become difficult, to say the least.

While there are a variety of excuses to overindulge during the holidays, the best defense against holiday eating disasters is a good plan of action.  There is no better way to formulate a plan for holiday survival than to learn from how others stay healthy during this time of joy and celebration.  Use these helpful SparkPeople member tips to stay on track into the New Year.

''When people offer you tempting food options, tell them you are ''in training'' to lead a healthier lifestyle. In my experience, many people seem to take that better than if I were to say ''I'm watching my weight.'' You can be ''in training'' for anything, including living a healthier life.''

''Mentally practice passing up foods that you've chosen not to indulge in ahead of time. This makes it easier to actually follow through with your plan when the time comes. You're just re-enacting the scene you've already played out in your head many times.''

''When making latkes, use a non-stick frying pan and boiled potatoes instead of raw ones in the mixture. This helps to eliminate the need for a huge amount of fat.''

''When baking quick breads (like zucchini, pumpkin, blueberry, etc.), use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. Some people say to use part oil and part applesauce, but using just unsweetened applesauce makes for a very moist bread while cutting out a load of fat and calories.''

''Do you get weary thinking of how much extra work the holidays require? If you have grown children, consider going away for the holidays to reduce stress while also allowing your kids the opportunity to establish their own family traditions. Instead, try getting together as an extended family a few weeks later, after the holiday craziness has settled down.''

''It is important to realize one person can't do everything. Allow everyone to pitch in and help, including young children. People really do enjoy contributing and knowing that they played a part in the celebration.''

''Do you receive gifts of candy and cookies that you know will be too tempting to avoid? Consider dropping them by a homeless shelter. Although the homeless may struggle with health issues, the treats can help brighten their day.''  

''Say NO to the treats you really don't love so you can say YES and enjoy the treats you do!''

''There are plenty of things to DO to make a holiday special besides EATING. Focus on ways to spend quality time with family and friends that don't include food, such as volunteering to ring the bell for the Salvation Army, or helping sort food at the local food bank. Pull out a deck of cards and board games, and enjoy some friendly competition and laughs. Get out old pictures, slides and videos of holidays past and enjoy the memories.''

''Do you typically participate in a cookie exchange with family or friends? Consider suggesting a new focus other than food this year, such as an ornament or book exchange.  Another option is to enjoy making the cookies and then creating mix and match plates of the delicious goodies to take to your local fire or police station, Ronald McDonald house or Big Brothers/Big Sisters center to help brighten the holidays of those who are less fortunate.''

''As you are preparing the house for the festivities, turn the chores into ''stealth'' exercise. Put on your workout clothes to get into workout mode. Crank up the inspirational music and vacuum and clean vigorously fast to get that heart rate up. Not only will you get the cleaning done in record time, but you will also fit in an interval workout as well.''

''Be encouraged by holiday snowfall. Not only is it beautiful, but it also provides great ways to exercise when you shovel the snow or walk up hills after enjoying a sled ride down.''

''Don't forget about getting proper sleep and rest amidst your hectic holiday schedule. Feeling refreshed can help you enjoy the season more!''

''I try to remember that Thanksgiving is a single day in November, and Christmas is a single day in December. The holidays do NOT include all the days in between--unless I let them!''

''Set goals to track your food, continue to exercise, and look for other ways to celebrate the holidays that don't include food. If you can, limit the social obligations to just a few and go full, not hungry. Know yourself and be mindful of the landmines that can sabotage your efforts toward your goals.''

''Find accountability buddies (on SparkPeople or otherwise) who can offer you support and ideas to stay on track through the holidays. Having others in your life who understand your daily struggles makes a difference.''

''With so many things going on during the holidays, you might feel like you are on a treadmill and can't get off. Step back, meditate for a while and calm down. Feeling calmer can help you feel more positive.''

''The holidays evoke a variety of feelings such as stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, or financial constraints. If you are feeling down during this time of year, throwing yourself into volunteering does wonders at putting things into perspective.''
What tips and tricks do you use to stay on track during this time of year? Which of these ideas will help you make positive choices this year?

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