Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, most people gain at least a couple pounds from indulging in tempting comfort foods, baked goods, and candy, as well as from being more sedentary in the cold weather. This weight gain is not inevitable however if you have a plan ahead of time to keep your eating and exercise in balance.

*Prepare healthy meals and snacks ahead of time: In the winter time, the cooler weather can make us feel more like snuggling in a blanket on the couch than doing simple tasks like cooking dinner and preparing lunches. However, if you use cleaning up after dinner as a time to prepare lunches, you will only have to clean the kitchen up once before you sit down to relax for the night, and you won’t have to get up earlier in the morning to prepare your lunch.

*Soup it up: The fall and winter is a perfect time to enjoy a warm, comforting bowl of soup, so make dinner easy on yourself by making a pot of soup with whatever veggies and proteins you may have in the fridge or pantry.  See the “Chicken Veggie Soup” or “Butternut Squash Soup” recipe for ideas on soups you can make that can feed your families for multiple nights, saving time, money, and energy!

*Bring healthy treats to work for the candy bowl: Instead of walking by the candy bowl at work, bring in some healthy treats such as mini boxes of raisins, portioned size bags of almonds, or granola bars so when you do reach for the bowl you will be doing a treat for yourself!

*Plan an indoor workout if it is too cold outside to walk or jog: If you normally walk or jog outside for your daily workout, and it gets too cold outside, have an alternate workout for indoors.  Use television time as workout time, work out to exercise DVDs or free on-demand exercise programs, or get a gym membership that you can pay month to month so you can work out there until the weather warms up again.

*Eat lean proteins and veggies first at holiday dinner time: Lean proteins such as lean beef, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, tofu, or beans or veggies rich in fiber fill us up longer than other foods since they take longer to digest in the body.  Fill up on these foods first, so you will fill your plate of with less calorie-dense starchy and high-sugar foods.

*Limit treats and holiday drinks to 2 servings at parties: When you are at a holiday party, limit yourself to just a small treat or two such as a cookie, a small slice of pie or cake, or a seasonal cocktail.  The average cookie can be 100 to 150 calories, while the average 5 ounce cocktail or glass of wine can be about 100 calories or more, so overdoing it can put you over your recommended daily intake in calories.

*Stay hydrated: I can never stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated.  Dehydration can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, and can also make use eat more since our bodies will get water from whatever source you will allow it to have.  Stick to water or unsweetened, calorie-free beverages as your primary drink of choice, and you will not only save calories, but will also save yourself from uncomfortable symptoms that can put a damper on your holiday cheer.