It’s the holiday season! And I’m willing to bet your friendly weight-loss surgeon is just about the LAST person you want to hear from during this time of year. I know, I know. You’re “supposed” to be able to “cheat” in December, right? Throw caution to the wind and just pick up those healthy habits so easily put on pause this month during January, right? You know that’s easier said than done. But telling you that healthy habits can’t simply be put on a shelf like Aunt Millie’s fruit cake isn’t as helpful as giving you some important tools to try to survive this season without gaining extra weight in the process. So, I’ve compiled some useful tips on simple, tasty, and healthier considerations that won’t make you feel guilty and defeated come January 1. Consider these my holiday gift to you!

1. Eat Before You Cook. This is less a food tip and more a life strategy. If you’re the chef of the family, eat something healthy before you begin the holiday meal prep. Controlling your portions and being mindful about what you’re eating will help you from mindlessly nibbling while you’re cooking.

2. Skim Off the Top. This is two tips rolled into one. Because gravy is a big feature at many a holiday dinner table, make it ahead of time and refrigerate it. Once you’ve pulled it out of the fridge and before you warm it, skim off the fat that has risen to the top. Voila! Tasty gravy with FAR fewer calories. Another “skim” tip: Use skim milk and Parmesan cheese in your mashed potato recipe instead of full-fat butter and whole milk. A tasty swap that can save a gravy-boat- load of calories!

3. Eat two baseballs, a deck of cards and a light bulb. Serve up dental floss for dessert. Sound delicious? Don’t worry. I’m not being literal here. I’m talking about portion control. It matters. You really can partake in most of the holiday dinner fare if you control how much of it you eat. Focus on filling half of your plate with veggies (about two baseballs-worth in size), a quarter of your plate with lean protein (about the size of a deck of cards), a quarter with starch (generally the size of a light bulb) and top it all off with a SMALL serving of dessert (about the size of a dental floss package). The imagery may sound silly, but it’s a great way to help you decide how much of a particular item to eat – and more importantly, how much not to.

4. Go Greek. Greek yogurt is all the rage right now, isn’t it? Something found exclusively at specialty grocery stores 10 years ago is now available at your local super market. Use it to your advantage! If Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in your household without the dips and sauces, consider swapping the full-fat and calorie laden mayo and sour cream with Greek yogurt. There are many delicious recipes out there to choose from, like this one.

5. Focus on FUN! Make your holiday gathering more about friends, family and fun than intensely focused on food. From creative gift exchanges to ugly sweater contests, there are a myriad of ways to get the focus off of food while giving yourself and your guests a gift that lasts – healthy weight management.

Yes, it is true that most adults “only” gain about two pounds during the holiday season. It’s also true that most NEVER lose the extra weight they’ve gained. So, 15 holiday party seasons could add up to an additional 30 pounds of excess weight. I won’t belabor my point here: What you eat and how you behave with food MATTERS. Your body and health won’t give you the “holiday pass” that your mind wants them to. Take control TODAY and be way ahead of the game come January 1.

The Lite and Smart Dimensions™ team wishes Happy and Healthy Holidays to you and yours.