Tag Archives: holiday season

6 Ways to Give Thanks this Thanksgiving

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude for the blessings we have in life. Gratitude puts everything in a fresh perspective and allows us to see and appreciate all of the things we grateful for.

The more you practice giving thanks, the better you’ll be at it over time. Like anything else, you can turn being grateful into a habit and a way of living. The fall and holiday seasons are an especially good time to practice being thankful.

Here are 6 ways you can get creative and give thanks this holiday season:

Invite others to your dinner
Many people are alone on Thanksgiving. If you know a neighbor, friend or someone at work will be by themselves during the holiday, welcome them to join your dinner. Your guests will appreciate the invitation and your gathering will be happier with a sense of fellowship and togetherness.

Share Thanksgiving memories
You can remember Thanksgiving’s past and ask family members to tell fond stories about Thanksgiving memories. You can invite your guests to join in and share their warmest Thanksgiving memories and family stories.

Create a thankful atmosphere
Decorating your home with lovely crafts can create a thankful and comfortable space for family and guests. You can incorporate organic materials, such as greenery, pine cones, stones, leaves or acorns, to create a festive atmosphere. Put out a platter of fruits, veggies, cheeses and nuts to embellish your table. You can even use scrapbook paper and have guests create Thanksgiving card placeholders, sharing the things that they are grateful for.

Do a good deed or volunteer
While Thanksgiving is considered a time for enjoying family and friends, it’s also an opportunity to share your blessings with others. You can do a good deed or volunteer to express your gratitude. Visit a hospital or nursing home. Put together gifts or treats to share with the patients. These small gifts can mean a lot to someone who may not have family to enjoy the holiday with them. You can also donate to a church or charitable organization to help provide for others at Thanksgiving.

Write handwritten notes to friends
When was the last time you received a real letter from a friend or family member? Or the last time you wrote one? You may have family and friends you’re unable to visit during the holidays. A handwritten note sent by mail is a precious way to show your appreciation and love.

Appreciate the little things
A kind word, heartfelt hug or peck on the cheek can express your gratefulness better than expensive gifts. Give compliments to your family and friends on Thanksgiving day. Hugs and kisses are a delight to the young and old alike.

Thanksgiving is a great time to share kindness, thankfulness and appreciation. Get your family involved in doing something good on this day. Teach the younger generous to be gracious and giving. Express your gratitude and say “thank you” to everyone you know!

22 Best And Worst Foods For Fall

Pumpkin-Pie-ImageI love the holidays. Fall and winter bring many festivities – from Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and making new memories. And then, of course, there’s the food.

I love to eat, especially when someone else cooks it and puts it on the table in front of me to enjoy. Unfortunately, I enjoy all of the tasty fall and winter treats that are bad for me. I have been known to raid my kids’ Halloween candy after they go to bed. I live for all the fattening Thanksgiving foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie.

So, I have made a resolution to TRY to eat healthier this holiday season. I did some research on the worst and best foods to eat during the fall and winter months.

First, here’s a list of the 7 most fattening foods for fall and winter:

Heart-warming drinks
Fall drinks, such as hot chocolate, eggnog, apple cider, flavored lattes, and hot toddies, are loaded with extra calories. While they are absolutely delicious, they contain anywhere from 200 to almost 400 empty calories. I have found green teas that offer great cold-weather flavors and provide antioxidants without the added calories.

Yummy pies
I am a big fan of pie. In fact, there are very few types of pie that I won’t eat. While pie often starts out with a healthy fruit, nut or vegetable filling, it may then become loaded down with heavy pie crusts, sweeteners and ice cream toppings. Try to skip the crust, cut a small piece, and opt for a light whipped topping.

Creamy, delicious soups
There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup to ward off the chill of long winter months. Yet, soups or stews that are loaded with cream, cheese or meat may also have too many calories. Add in a bread bowl, rice or noodles and you’ve loaded on even more calories. Broth and vegetable-based soups can fill you up with fewer calories.

Delectable stuffing
Stuffing can be filled with high-fat additions such as sausage and butter. Plus, stuffing is even better with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. You can make a low-fat stuffing with fruits, vegetables and stock – and go easy on the gravy.

Comforting mac and cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a staple for most kids and a blast from the past for adults. One cup of mac and cheese can contain 300 to 400 calories. To lower the calories, use low-fat cheese and low-fat milk.

Dreamy mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are another yummy, comfort food. Many recipes rely on butter, heavy cream and whole milk to bump up the flavor. Substitute low-fat options for healthier mashed potatoes.

Scrumptious pumpkin desserts
Pumpkin on its own is good for you. Make it into a pie, cake or other rich dessert and you negate the health benefits. Pumpkin muffins or custard can be a low-fat alternative.

Now, it’s time to put these wonderful, tasty and fattening foods out of your mind and focus on healthy, nutritious alternatives. With a little Internet research, you can find easy recipes to create good-for-you holiday dishes that everyone can enjoy.

Here are 12 healthy fall foods that are sure to be a hit with friends and family:

Turkey
Turkey is a good winter food. It’s lean and packed with protein. It’s also low in calories. In addition to being a traditional entree for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, you can also enjoy turkey in soups or as a hearty sandwich on whole-grain bread with veggies for toppings.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes offer much more nutritional content than white potatoes. They are filled with fiber and protein and provide vitamins A, C and B6, as well as minerals such as potassium and manganese. Sweet potatoes also work in a variety of dishes from sides to desserts.

Squash
Winter squash has a fine texture and sweeter flavor. Squash is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. To maintain the nutritional value, it’s best to bake, grill or fry squash without adding butter or syrup. Try low-fat margarine, brown sugar, applesauce, or cinnamon and ginger as seasonings.

Pumpkin
As we mentioned under the fattening foods, pumpkin is good for you. This vegetable is a good source of fiber and is full of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, magnesium, potassium, niacin, and vitamins A and C. Pumpkin does contain natural sugar so keep recipes simple by not adding extra sugar.

Beets
Beets are high in fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Beets are sweet and can be roasted as a side dish or added to salads for a splash of color.

Carrots
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, C and B6, and contain potassium, thiamin and fiber. Grated, sliced or diced carrots add a great garnish to dishes and provide many health benefits.

Broccoli
While broccoli gets a bad rap, it is a power vegetable containing vitamins A, C and B6 as well as being high in potassium, manganese and fiber.

Cabbage
Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable known for their health benefits, is loaded with nutrition. It’s full of vitamins, nutrients and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can be added to a variety of dishes to give them a healthy boost.

Cauliflower
Cauliflower makes a great side dish or addition to other vegetable dishes. It can be steamed, grilled, roasted or mashed like potatoes. Cauliflower is a great source for vitamin C and may help prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.

Citrus fruits
Many varieties of citrus fruits are available during the winter months, including mandarin oranges, tangerines, blood oranges and clementines. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and high in fiber.

Apples and pears
Apples and pears are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin C. They are good for you when eaten raw or baked into side dishes.

Cranberries
Fresh cranberries are available during the fall and winter months. Cranberries are low in calories and contain fiber and vitamin C. Add them to salads, muffins or as toppings for side dishes.

Figs and dates
Figs are high in sugar, but they contain fiber and add a great flavor to fall dishes. Dates are also sweet, provide fiber and potassium, and can be added to salads, fruit dishes and desserts.

It’s easy to make traditional holiday dishes and comfort foods during the cold fall and winter months. However, you can break from tradition and switch out those fattening foods with healthier alternatives. Hop on the Internet and search for recipes you can make with the nutritious fruits and vegetables listed above.

Do you have healthy dishes you enjoy fixing during the holidays? Please feel free to pass on your favorite recipes.

8 Ways to Control Your Holiday Eating

pumpkin-pie-1372787-mOn the best of days, it can be hard to control your eating. The holiday season challenges even the most routine eating habits. You’re running errands and eating on the go. You have holiday parties, family gatherings and lunch with friends.

Adding in the additional stress and changes in your routine, how do you maintain your healthy diet during the holidays?

Here are 8 ways to control your eating and enjoy a happier and healthier holiday season:

Start with the healthy options
Whether you’re sitting around the holiday table, grabbing food off of a buffet or eating on the go, load up on the healthiest items first. Start with a salad, fresh fruit or a veggie dish. Then, choose the whole grains and lean meats. Last, sample a few bites of different desserts. You’ll fill up on the better food choices and eat less of the foods you don’t need.

Concentrate on eating
When you eat with friends, family or co-workers, you may not pay as much attention to what – and how much – you are putting into your mouth. By concentrating on what you’re eating, you will be able to tell when your stomach is letting you know you’re full. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know when to quit rather than mindlessly eating.

Eat slowly
We are always in a hurry and often eat on the go. You may be guilty of stuffing your mouth full of food and hurrying to swallow it down. Do you even really taste the foods you’re eating? Chew slowly and really savor the food in your mouth. Taking it slow will also give you time to realize that you’re full, rather than finding out later that you are over-stuffed with food.

Plan on leftovers
Most families serve way too much food at the holidays. It’s best to assume that you will have leftovers instead of feeling you have to eat it all. Making two meals out of what you might have eaten in one sitting will help you control how much you eat.

Be in charge of your stomach
Your well-meaning mother-in-law or aunt may try to push food on you. The people who cook the food usually enjoying seeing others eat the food. They want you to try every dish and give your opinion. If you’re feeling full, politely let them know you aren’t hungry now, but you’ll be sure to try it later. Or, offer to take it home as leftovers.

Snack healthy
As you’re running errands or preparing food ahead of time, make sure you choose healthy snacks. Rather than sampling the food you’re making, have a banana, grapes, carrot sticks or a handful of nuts to keep you from getting too hungry. If you sit down to eat and you’re starving, you are more likely to overeat.

Rest after eating
When you’ve finished a meal, take a few minutes to rest. Give your stomach time to digest before you go back to running errands or attending the next holiday gathering. It’s also good to take a few minutes to relax and recharge to keep your stress levels down. Running yourself ragged and becoming stressed can lead to eating unhealthy food choices.

Find new sources of comfort
If eating comfort foods is a way for you to cope with stress or handle holidays with the family, try doing something different. Call a friend, go outside for a walk in the sun, read a book or take up a hobby that keeps you occupied. The goal is to distract yourself from making unhealthy food choices during the chaos of the holidays.

You can maintain your healthy eating habits during the holiday season. Keep these tips in mind as you run your holiday errands, fix festive dishes or attend holiday parties!

12 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

christmas-lights-1435376-mIt’s time we all admitted it: The holidays are stressful. The average American spends about 42 hours on holiday activities. Money concerns and hectic schedules are typically the top sources of stress.

This time of year is truly magical. From Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Year’s, we spend time with family and friends, making delicious treats, listening to seasonal music and enjoying the spirit of the holidays.

Then, why does it make us so crazy? For most of us, we want the holidays to be perfect. We want to impress our families or make magical memories for our kids. Yet, if we turn into a screaming shrew while trying to decorate the tree and fix holiday dishes, it definitely takes some of the joy out of the holidays.

Here are 12 tips to help you manage your stress and create a truly enjoyable holiday season:

Lower your expectations
For those of us who tend to be perfectionists, we are stressed all year round. We set expectations for ourselves – and those around us – that are so high that it’s unrealistic they will be met. Then, we feel like we failed and become more anxious and stressed. The holidays only amplify these feelings.

What can you do? Lower your expectations and focus on what is realistic. Think about what really matters and simplify your to-do list. You will be able to accomplish what you want without sacrificing your sanity.

Take a breath and “let it go”
When you feel your mind is racing and things are out of control, take a deep breath and let it go. Focus on your breathing. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and concentrate on breathing in and out until you feel more relaxed. Let go of the things you cannot control and ask yourself if the things you’re stressing about really matter in the grand scheme of life. Most likely, they probably don’t.

Delegate part of your list
Another way to lower your stress level is to delegate part of your to-do list. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. You can delegate your house cleaning to a cleaning service. You can give everyone in your family a holiday job, such as putting lights on the house, wrapping presents or addressing holiday cards.

Get a handle on your finances
One of the most stressful parts of the holidays can be worrying about money. Your job situation may have changed and money may be tighter than normal. Doing everything you want during the holidays can put a strain on your budget. Set a shopping budget – know who you’re buying for and how much you want to spend on each person. Also, plan for extra groceries, decorations and travel expenses. If your budget is really tight, consider making homemade gifts. When you receive a handcrafted gift, you know it comes from the heart and it often means more.

Learn to say no
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to exercise your right to say no. People will understand if you can’t participate in every project and activity. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and anxious.

Switch up your traditions
You used to take the kids caroling and then watch old holiday movies. Now, no one wants to do it with you. You may need to make adjustments to your holiday traditions as time goes by. It’s not about the event itself, but spending time with your family and making new memories. Drop the stressful family traditions and do something simple, like having hot chocolate and waffles while you decorate the tree.

Practice peacemaking
Family misunderstandings and conflicts are only magnified during the holidays. Think of some ways you can head off any bad feelings or disagreements before they go too far. If you have house guests, consider planning time for you or them to be out of the house for a few hours. You can go to yoga class or take a walk around the neighborhood. Your guests might be able to visit other relatives or go see a movie.

Give yourself a break
It’s important to take time for yourself during the holidays. Block out a couple of hours every few days to rest or do something you enjoy. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure. Take a bubble bath with scented candles or read a book.

Eat well
Food is a big part of the holiday season. Make sure you are eating foods that help decrease stress. You can improve your mood and energy level with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans, fish and nuts.

Enjoy your exercise
Find a physical activity that will help you clear your mind and energize your body, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Dance around the living room to holiday music with your kids, play sports-related video games or do kickboxing. Go outside for a walk and soak up the sunshine.

Call a friend
If you’re feeling stressed out, call a friend to vent. Your friends can help you feel better and relate to your problems. Just be sure to return the favor and listen to their holiday woes.

Go to bed
While you may feel like you need to deprive yourself of sleep to get more done, lack of sleep can turn into a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more tired, out of sorts and overwhelmed you feel. Try to get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you don’t get things done, it can wait until tomorrow or not get done at all. You may need to adjust your expectations so that you can stay rested and healthy.

By planning ahead and preparing for the chaos of the holidays, you can keep your stress under control. Make it a point to manage your stress and enjoy the holiday season.

14 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

healthy-greens-1369011-mLast year, before Thanksgiving and the start of all the holiday festivities, we posted about the best and worst foods for fall and winter.

I was thinking about all the yummy foods that will be piled high on the table for Thanksgiving dinner, and I decided it might be good to add in a few healthy super foods to my eating habits this holiday season.

Here are 14 of the healthiest foods that you should be eating but probably aren’t (especially during the decadent holidays):

Lean Protein
Lean sources of protein can help speed up your metabolism and encourage your body to burn more fat. Some good examples include turkey, chicken breast, pork and leaner cuts of beef. You get muscle-building protein without the extra saturated fat.

Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin and stomach cancers. Tomatoes also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Red tomatoes are the best, and processed tomatoes are just as good as fresh.

Yogurt
Yogurt gives you calcium and protein along with millions of bacteria that are beneficial for your body. These bacteria help boost your immune system and provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, so check the label for “live and active cultures.”

Carrots
Carrots are filled with carotenoids, which are fat-soluble compounds that reduce the risk of a wide range of cancers and combat the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis. They are easy to prepare and can be added to pastas and salads or enjoyed as a snack while on the go.

Cruciferous Veggies
Fruits and veggies should be a large part of your diet – you should strive to make them half your plate. Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber as well as essential nutrients. Great options include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy.

Black Beans
All beans are good for your heart, but black beans can boost your brain power. They are full of anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound that gives you better brain function.

Berries
Berries are a potent source of antioxidants that fight free radicals, slow down aging and reduce your risk of cancer. Berries are a healthy, refreshing snack that can satisfy a sweet craving. They also go great with your morning cereal, in smoothies and on yogurt.

Bananas
Bananas are an easy, on-the-go treat. Pack in your gym back as a quick snack, or cut it up on your cereal or oatmeal. Foods high in potassium – like bananas – can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Pomegranate
This colorful fruit is full of antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. You can even get the benefits by drinking a glass of pomegranate juice.

High-Fiber Cereal
Fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy body and can help in losing weight. It fills you up and keeps your digestive systems working properly. Whole-grain cereals digest slowly and keep your blood sugar at a steady level. Cereals also give you B vitamins, antioxidants, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium.

Oats
Oats are packed with soluble fiber that helps reduce heart disease. While they are loaded with carbs, like cereal, they are released slowly to keep you full and satisfied.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, calcium and potassium. Other great dark orange vegetables include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash and orange bell peppers.

Eggs
Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past, but they are nutritious, economical and a great way to fill up on good protein. Studies have shown if you eat eggs for breakfast, you eat fewer calories through the day. Eggs also contain 12 vitamins and minerals that are good for your brain and memory.

Nuts
Nuts are full of protein, heart healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. A handful of nuts can help lower cholesterol and promote weight loss. You can mix it up with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and pecans. Enjoy them as a snack or add them to salads, side dishes, cereals or yogurt.

So, if you’re feeling a little guilty after Thanksgiving dinner or holiday parties, add a few of these healthy foods to your regular diet. Put some diversity and color on your plate!

9 tips for avoiding the holiday blues

christmas tree holiday blues depressionThere is no getting around it – the holidays are stressful. We have posted before about learning to say “no” to holiday stress and how to survive relationship stress during the holidays.

We are overloaded with responsibilities, and we tend to have higher expectations for ourselves and others from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. What can you do to keep that stress from turning into the holiday blues or depression?

First, let’s take a look at the common triggers that can lead to the holiday blues:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Financial concerns
  • Family conflict
  • Lack of sleep and fatigue
  • Bad memories
  • Unhealthy choices

Here are 9 ways to combat these holiday depression triggers and keep your spirits bright during the holidays:

Set realistic expectations
It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure to create the perfect holiday. You want to find the best gifts, decorate everything just so, prepare a wonderful meal and be a gracious hostess. By trying to do it all, we put extra stress on ourselves – and our loved ones – during the holidays.

If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by your to-do list and no longer enjoying the process of preparing for the holidays, it may be time to cut back. Ask your family what they like the most about the holidays and concentrate on making those areas special. Enlist their help and create memories together.

Create a holiday budget
Overspending during the holiday season can also put a damper on your spirits. It’s harder to enjoy the holidays if you are feeling stressed about your finances. Make a budget that includes decorating, food, gifts, travel and even New Year’s Eve plans. Then, stick to it.

Plan for family conflict
If you know there will be conflicts at Christmas or New Year’s gatherings, prepare yourself and your immediate family ahead of time. Be ready to offer a neutral response to diffuse an argument. Then, remove yourself from the situation by offering to help out in the kitchen or spending time with the kids. If the idea of family gatherings seems more stressful and depressing than positive and enjoyable, you may want to consider making it a brief visit, staying home or creating a new holiday tradition.

Get some sleep
Holiday activities and planning can cut into your sleep schedule. You may be spending more evenings attending social events. You may stay up late to wrap presents or address your holiday cards. Studies show that there can be a link between depression and sleep loss. Make sure you are getting enough sleep so that you feel rested and ready to tackle the day.

Learn to grieve
If you have lost someone close to you, the holidays can be especially difficult and you may feel more down than other times of the year. You may be angry at the person for leaving you alone during the holidays. On the other hand, you may feel guilty if you enjoy yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve and also give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays.

Keep up good habits
I
t’s easy to get derailed from your healthy habits during the holiday season. Try to maintain your good habits, such as eating right, exercising, sleeping and managing stress. Just because you overindulge at the dessert table doesn’t mean you should give up on your goals. Start fresh the next day with your regular routine.

Exercise is one of the first things to go in the holiday shuffle. Be sure to keep to your regular routine – it will help you ward off stress and the holiday blues. Try not to use alcohol to cope with holiday depression. Alcohol can intensify your emotions and leave you feeling worse. Also, be safe on New Year’s Eve.

Get some sunshine
The dark, dreary days of winter may also affect your mood during the holidays. You may experience seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Approximately 10-20% of people in the US may experience a mild case of SAD that can be compounded by holiday stress. Try to get some sunshine if you can, or you may want to talk to your doctor about light therapy.

Give back
While it’s great to volunteer or donate to charity any time of year, it can help put things into perspective during the chaotic holiday season. Make it a family tradition to volunteer and help those who are having a difficult time. Or, choose a charity together and make a donation.

Remember what matters
It’s easy to get caught up in the over-commercialization of the holidays. Remember what’s important during the holiday season. Spend time with people who make you laugh and smile. Stick with simple traditions so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning and expenses.

Focus on what is meaningful to you and your family, and you will create a fun, memorable holiday season. What are your favorite holiday traditions?

10 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.