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Welcome to the Holiday Season!

Can you believe the holiday season is almost here? This is the hardest time of year to maintain a healthy eating plan, but it definitely can be done. And you don’t have to deprive yourself, either. Halloween is the first tricky day, but you can enjoy some treats without getting in trouble. Here are some tips to keep Halloween healthy:

If you are among the millions who buy candy to hand out to your trick-or-treaters, the easiest way to avoid overindulging is to choose ones you don’t love, but children do. It’s also a good idea to include at least some candies that are free of peanuts, as many people have allergies to those, and avoiding too much high-fructose corn syrup is good, too.

There are non-candy options for this as well. If you decide to go this route, try to find things the kids will love. Some food items that come to mind are fruit roll-ups or chews, yogurt-covered raisins or pretzels, or even prepackaged bread sticks with cheese. Small, inexpensive toys can be fun also, as long as you have some that aren’t choking hazards for the littlest trick-or-treaters.

Go ahead and enjoy a few pieces of candy if you would like to, then settle back in and eat a well-balanced diet. Three meals a day is preferred, but you can have some days of two meals if you want to practice intermittent fasting. If doing that, you have two choices You can choose a 6 -8-hour time period to eat, and the rest of the day is water or black coffee/tea only, or you can pick two days during the week to eat just one 500-calorie meal and fast for the rest of the day. There doesn’t appear to be a huge benefit of one intermittent fasting plan over the other. Both can be quite effective in helping people to lose weight or to make up for higher calorie days.

The main thing to avoid is a sense of being deprived. The holidays are not the time to deny yourself the enjoyment of sharing your favorite foods with family and friends. When faced with a lot of delicious dishes, my recommendation to my clients is to fill one plate for dinner, not piled high but full, and one small plate for dessert. Small portions of the foods you love will satisfy your taste buds without having you fall off the healthy eating wagon.

When hosting a gathering or bringing food to share, this is a perfect opportunity to make yummy, healthy dishes. You can also look for updated, healthier recipes for the foods you associate with the holidays. Include some gluten free dishes if you can and having some nice salads with low-fat dressings is always good. Fruit plates are a great addition to a dessert table, too!

Another thing to remember is that overindulging occasionally is not going to do major damage or cause long-lasting weight gain. In fact, having a cheat meal or treat once every 7 to 14 days is a great way to stay motivated for the long haul. Choose which meal or snack you want to splurge on, then enjoy it! My only caveat is that you should avoid having seconds and thirds, as that can definitely have you consuming far too many calories for one day.

It's not just about eating well, though. To stay healthy through the holidays, try to get at least two workouts in per week, even if they’re short ones, and the more walking you do, the better. If shopping, park a good distance from the entrance to the store or mall, and take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator if possible. Simple choices like those make a huge difference in fitness levels!

Even if you completely go off the rails with your food and skip some workouts, the best thing you can do is to get yourself back on track as quickly as possible. Don’t decide it’s a lost cause and continue to make unhealthy choices! That’s the best way to take yourself down and feeling badly is the worst way to spend the holidays. My hope is that you will have fun with your loved ones, eat those wonderful holiday foods in moderation, get some exercise, and enjoy a fabulous holiday season!

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