Pecan pie! Chocolate mousse! Candy cane truffles! Roast beast! Whether your tastes range from traditional to Seussian, holiday food can inspire anxiety or ecstasy—or both—depending on your mind-set. Here’s the good news: The average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. Now for the bad news: While that might not sound like much, research shows we don’t lose it, and that one pound adds up year after year. And the news is worse for people who are already overweight, who add about five extra holiday pounds each year.
Sweet treats and rich meals can be landmines for health-conscious people, yet no one wants to feel deprived during the hap- hap-iest season of all. But no need to fear—there are sensible ways to navigate this territory. And who better to show you how to do it than healthy eating experts themselves? We asked the country’s top nutritionists and dietitians to tell us the single rule they use personally to make it through the season without overdoing it or stressing so much that they miss the festive fun.
Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist
My one rule: Eat what you love, leave what you like.
Instead of piling your plate a mile high with things that don’t really tantalize your taste buds (fruit cake, we’re looking at you!), pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment. If something doesn’t make you swoon, leave it on the sideline.
Erica Giovinazzo, R.D., Head Coach and Nutritionist at Brick CrossFit and BodyChange Dietitian
My one rule: Keep your treats to one day a week.
The biggest mistake people make at the holidays is making Thanksgiving a four-day feast instead of a one-day indulgence. Then the holiday parties come and all of a sudden you’re giving yourself an excuse to have treats nearly every day. Rather than letting your holiday feast roll into pie for breakfast, limit your splurges to one event per week.