The holidays are here and people seem to be bracing themselves for a massive slip up when it comes to their diets. Please stop with the craziness, I implore you. Thanksgiving is just a day. Christmas is just a day. Christmas Eve is just a day. New Year’s Eve is just a day. That’s a total of 4 days, not an entire season. It’s not 2 months of eating like a starved maniac who was just let loose in a cheesecake factory.

Please don’t misunderstand me, life is meant to be lived. If it’s your kids birthday – have the cake. Holiday foods are like aromatherapy, certain foods trigger happy family or childhood memories, like my dad’s sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. Does it make any sense that I should pass them up because I am on a diet? No. But, does a platter full of cookies in the teachers lounge or a plate filled with cheese and crackers hold the same value? No, they don’t.

Insert segue to my 6-Step Guide to a Guiltless Holiday:

  1. NOBODY LEAVES EMPTY HANDED- When you do your grocery shopping buy a bunch of those disposable to-go containers. When you clear the table put them out and invite your guests to take food with them, nobody leaves empty handed and you don’t end up overloading on leftovers.
  1. SAUCE ON THE SIDE- If you are cooking put the glazes, sauces and gravies on the side. Pack up your leftovers and toss the sauce. There is nothing unhealthy about turkey and veggies – this could even serve as some of your prep for the week. Save the sauces for the holidays only.
  1. DON’T MAKE TOO MUCH- Here’s a wild idea: don’t make so much food. Most of us aren’t feeding an army, we make 2x more than we need when a holiday is involved.
  1. PORTION CONTROL- We all have those foods that we cant stop eating like stuffing, mashed potatoes or apple crisp. Here a grand idea: use a stuffing tin for portion control. After you make your stuffing or taters spray a muffin tin with non stick spray and pop those suckers in the oven for 5 minutes, pop them out of the tins, top with a garnish and serve. Its cute, it presents well and you avoid the temptation of eating too much.
  1. PLAN YOUR PLATE- I will choose to have the foods that I have an emotional connection to over a handfuls of chips just because they are in front of me. So I suggest we be a bit choosy. Plan what you are going to eat. I always pick 2 or 3 items at a holiday dinner that I will enjoy guilt free. Example: on Thanksgiving I know I will eat stuffing and apple crisp. Your turn…what 2 or 3 items will you plan to have???
  1. If you are attending a dinner at someone else’s home bring a vegetable dish. There are so many vegetable side dishes that are healthy and gorgeous. Here is what you will accomplish…
    1. You will impress your host by not showing up empty handed.
    2. You will ensure that there is a healthy dish to add to your plate so that you can eat your stuffing muffin guilt free.

We spend the better part of a year trying to get healthy and feel better about ourselves. Don’t throw it away during the holidays because of lack of impulse control. We seriously need to check ourselves. We make jokes about holiday weight gain but there is nothing funny about damaging ourselves and having absolutely no self-control. I am not saying don’t enjoy the holidays, I am just saying to be realistic. We aren’t being attacked by an angry mob of grandmothers wielding cake and cookies. We do actually have control over what we eat. Don’t undo 6 months of hard work to eat recklessly for 2 months only to have to work it off again over the next 6 months.