Believe it or not, it's that time again. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and then the holiday festivities continue until the new year. Each year, I remind people that a holiday is just a day not a period of six weeks, but this message always seems to fall on deaf ears. For some reason, my patients still come to my office during and after the holiday season complaining of weight gain with the same excuses I've heard before. However, being the optimistic person I am, I'm going to believe that this year will be different. My message will finally click with my patients; there will be no unwanted weight gain; and they will begin 2014 feeling really good about themselves.
• Stick to a regular eating routine. Don't skip meals, even if there's a big event at the end of the day. Saving calories for later is basically saying that you will overeat later.
• Before going to an event, grab a small snack. You'll be less likely to eat and drink too much when you arrive. For example, try low-fat Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit. Perhaps you can then consider passing on the hors d'oeuvres.
• Schedule exercise into your week, just as you do your dinners and parties. Now is not the time to let your exercise routine slip. Don't find the time – make the time. If you need to wake up an hour earlier to squeeze in a workout, then just do it!
• Be more active. At a holiday meal, go for a walk with the family or play a game of tag football. Or try my family's favorite: pingpong.
• At events, focus on being social. Having food in your mouth makes it difficult to talk. Here's a fun strategy for the ladies: Buy a new lipstick (deep red or orange is in) that won't look as great on your lips after you've been noshing away.
• Carry a fabulous clutch to cocktails parties (yes this is another suggestion for women), so you have a drink in one hand and the clutch in the other – leaving no hands free to grab food.
• At parties, peruse buffets and identify the healthiest choices before getting in line. Avoid second helpings. And consider wearing a form-fitting dress (or trousers) – it'll remind you that just about everything on that buffet table is better off where it is.
• If you're visiting others for more than a day, try to bring some of your favorite healthy foods with you. Or go food shopping when you get there. Offering to pay for food is always well received.
• Watch your portion sizes, particularly if healthy dishes are not available. A little bit of unhealthy fare is much better than a lot of it.
• Prepare healthy, home-cooked meals on the evenings when you've got nothing planned. A veggie and shrimp stir-fry with a crisp green salad can be just what you need.
• When dining out, avoid the bread basket. Start with a salad (dressing on the side), and order fish more times than not. Stick to broiled, grilled, steamed, roasted or baked entrees without heavy cream sauces.
• Be careful of increased alcohol intake, since these calories definitely add up. Avoid cocktails made with juice, soda or syrup. And remember that the more you drink, the more likely you are to lose control over your food choices.
• Don't skimp on sleep. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to make poor eating choices the following day and the less likely you are to stick to your workout regime.
• Make healthy changes now – not later. Forget the New Year's resolution to get on track and lose weight. Truth be told, it's probably already overdue. Make the healthy changes now, and you'll be that much further ahead come January.
So who's with me? Trust me, I really do hate repeating myself.
Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet. Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.