This time of year, magazines, newspapers and the internet are filled with articles containing tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining weight. What to eat at holiday parties, what not to eat, and just how to deal with all that delicious food that seems to be everywhere you turn. It’s a very popular topic, and right up there with finding the perfect gift for your sister/best-friend/boss and managing the annual trip to your in-laws. I used to spend time reading my fair share of some of those articles, and there are some ideas I’ve adopted that work for me. (Drinking a large glass of water really does fill you up……) I don’t spend much time being concerned about weight gain through the holidays anymore, though, and here’s why: the way I ate before the holidays is the way I eat during the holidays, and the way I’ll eat after the holidays. It’s not a temporary condition, it’s how I live. And how I live, for the most part, is by eating healthy food that I enjoy and that is good for me. and delicious, too. The holidays will come, and the holidays will go, but I’ve learned over time that I need to eat healthy nutritious foods and exercise, and that doesn’t change. It’s a lifestyle.
It took time and some trial and error to get to this place, but over the years I have found a way of eating that works for me. My weight has rarely deviated more than a few pounds over the last 25 years or so, other than when I was pregnant with my son. I don’t skip meals and I have a snack if I need to. I feel good, and have a lot of energy. I don’t worry about going to parties and what I will eat because I have a plan. It’s a simple plan, and flexible enough so that I don’t worry about going to a restaurant or a party and being able to eat what is served. I’m not in any way talking about a diet. A diet for most people is something they go on to lose weight, and then go off once their goal is reached. There’s a $30 billion dollar industry built around weight loss and dieting in this country. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people, the weight comes back unless permanent changes in how they eat are made. That’s where lifestyle comes in. Exercise has to be part of the equation, too (but that’s another post.)

A change in lifestyle is not something that happens overnight. It requires commitment, focus and discipline to make these kinds of changes, especially in the beginning. But it gets easier over time and the rewards impact every area of our lives for the better. It took me years to learn a simple truth: when I eat nutritious, delicious and fresh foods, making sure my body is getting the right fuel, and exercise regularly, my weight takes care of itself. I’ve also learned that if I blow it occasionally and have that extra slice of pizza, it’s not the end of the world because I just go right back to what I know works for me.

I’ll be talking a lot more about this in the future but for now here’s something to think about. Do you have a healthy eating plan? A healthy eating plan gives your body the right nutrition while staying within your daily calorie goal to maintain or lose weight. A healthy eating plan also will give your body the fuel it needs for optimum energy and well-being throughout the day. For most people, a healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Fish, poultry and lean meats (in moderation) beans, eggs, and nuts are good sources of protein. Fresh foods, as close to their natural state as possbile, are emphasized. It’s important to limit foods containing saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. And there are so many ways to enjoy healthy foods these days, I have to add that it’s important that we enjoy our meals. (I’ll be posting more healthy and delicious recipes here in the future!)