"It's like a high-fructose corn syrup factory usurped about one-third of the store," my friend said, recounting a recent excursion to her Sacramento supermarket where row after row of Halloween candy had usurped the front aisles.
The candy season kicks off in early October and carries vigilantly through New Year's Day. During those three months, nearly every day becomes a special occasion to indulge with your receptionist's homemade Nutella fudge or a few glasses of chardonnay with spanakopita cups at the annual office holiday party.
Allow me to be the voice of reason. Stop. Now. Any momentary dietary gratification will come with guilt, regret, and probably cursing your skinny jeans that mysteriously "shrunk" in the dryer when you put them on the following morning.
Let's put an end to the holiday gorging at the beginning. Right now -- before Halloween, when the big sugar fiesta begins -- stymie consumption of those sugary, fatty foods that infiltrate offices, supermarkets, and, well, just about everywhere.
Employ these well-honed tactics and you'll minimize temptation so you can comfortably slip on that little black party dress. You'll thank me New Year's Day when weight loss won't be among your resolutions.
1. Do your meals correctly. Make breakfast a low-fat muffin and venti dark roast and you've bought a one-way ticket for all-day cravings, hunger, and overeating. Instead, set your day's metabolic tone with a protein shake. Make your meals clean lean protein, healthy fats, loads of leafy and cruciferous veggies, and slow-release high-fiber starches so you're less likely to nose dive into those eggnog cheesecake bars. If snacking becomes a problem, make a rule that you stick with three substantial meals.
2. Move more. Exercise takes a back burner among holiday festivities and fiascos. And no, the frantic afterThanksgiving Macy's door-buster sale does not count as exercise. Burst training becomes my favorite fat-blasting workout to stay lean, healthy, and crave-free during the holidays. Best of all, you can do it in just seconds a day.
3. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Parties, holiday shopping, and late nights at the office can seriously cut into sleep time, knocking numerous fat-burning hormones out of whack and leave you a morning-after caffeinated mess. Even if your office party goes into the twilight hours, that doesn't mean you should. You'll miss your drunk receptionist's awkward midnight toast, but call it an early night for seven to nine hours of consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Trust me: You're not missing much, and you'll get the recap the following morning.
4. Eat before you go. Nothing ever starts on time. You arrive hungry to your friend's Thanksgiving party, and an hour later dinner isn't ready. You're happily sipping your second pinot noir, a handsome server passes around petits fours and... well, you know the inevitable outcome. Take control and go to your next social function pleasantly full. Eat before you go and arrive pleasantly full. You can still enjoy the food but you'll bypass the temptation to devour endless mini mushroom and spinach quiches as you await dinner.
5. Employ my three-bite rule. Aunt Martha becomes adamant that you try her chocolate fudge cheesecake or you'll practically be exiled from the family will. No need to be a wet blanket and piously abstain. Instead, do your meals correctly and then enjoy three polite bites -- we're talking what you would eat on national TV, not an 11 p.m. fridge raid -- and step away from the dessert.
6. Prioritize down time. Increased work and social demands combined with gift buying and a gazillion other holiday obligations can pull you in a thousand different directions. You need time to rejuvenate and de-stress. That might mean yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or just chilling out with your best girlfriend and a Starbucks. Find what works for you and make time for it.
7. Stop making every occasion about food. The holidays are about giving, socializing, and lots of eating. Every event, festivity, and meeting involves some sort of fat-hijacking sugary concoction. Let's reclaim these holidays from gingerbread cookies, spiked eggnog, sticky toffee pudding, and the numerous other staples. Friends, family, giving, and gratitude should always trump food.
Holidays provide a land mine for dietary temptation, and even the most prepared of us can occasionally become tripped up. What one strategy would you add to this list? Share yours below.