Do you ever see a fit, thin mom indulge in a full-size personal pizza, a slice of pecan pie, or a plate of stuffing and wonder how in the world she eats like that and stays in shape? You probably think that if you ate that you would gain ten pounds in one day and that her metabolism must be so amazing, or she spends hours at the gym. But in reality, we are not going to gain substantial weight over one Thanksgiving meal or Christmas Eve dinner. What matters is what you are doing the rest of the year.

With the holiday season almost upon us, it is important to remember that we can enjoy treats and meals fully and eat delicious food, without sabotaging our health. The best way to stay on track while still enjoying all the festivities, is doing it mindfully and by making smart choices. Here are a few simple tips:

Follow the 80/20 Rule
You can eat healthy 80 percent of the time and indulge the other 20 percent.

For example, if you have the pizza, maybe skip the wine. And, if you do have a full indulging meal, or even a lazy day at home eating junk, then just make sure the next day you balance it out by drinking a lot of water and eating very healthy. Be conscientious of what you are feeding your body and reign it in when you know you are over-indulging. You can even plan ahead and strategize. But what does this look like in a day? Here is an example:

  • Breakfast- healthy protein or fruit, such as a smoothie or oatmeal.
  • Snack – piece of fruit.
  • Lunch- salad with protein, maybe a carb like brown rice or a healthy sandwich.
  • Dinner- a plate of your favorite foods, but use portion control. If it is a holiday party, choose your favorite dish and skip the ones that you can eat the rest of the year. Have a small piece of dessert and a glass of wine. Pick foods that are unique to the celebration.

As you can see, most of the day was healthy foods, and then at the party, the 80/20 Rule came in to play.

Practice Portion Control

To me, nothing is more important than portion control. I always remind everyone and write in my articles what my beloved father used to say, “poquito de todo” (a little of everything). One cup is about the size of a tennis ball, whereas 3 ounces of protein is the size of the palm of your hand. When you are eating out at a restaurant and you want to have steak, make sure it is around 3 ounces, which is the proper serving size. However, if you are having greens and vegetables that are oven baked or steamed with no heavy fats, then I encourage you to go all out.

Get Enough Sleep

Nothing will sabotage your efforts more than lack of sleep and staying out late. You walk around the next day feeling like you have a hangover, even if you did not drink alcohol. Then, you end up consuming extra calories because your cravings set in and your body feels off. Often, people who are overly tired end up consuming way too many calories. However, when you get a full night’s rest, you wake up refreshed.

Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of the holidays without facing a big setback in January. Cheers and happy healthy start to this holiday season!