Temptations abound during the holiday season. Add extra treats to busy schedules that leave little time for the gym and your belly may just rival Santa’s in the New Year. There really is a better way. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. With a little planning and intention the scale can still be your friend. Here’s how.

Write it down; make it (not) happen

Resolve to log all meals and snacks. Apps like Lose it! make it super easy to keep track of everything you eat or drink using your smart phone. Set up a profile, including your current weight and goal weight, and the app will suggest a daily calorie limit. It can be easy to underestimate how many calories you are actually eating unless you log your food. Log honestly, every day and stop fooling yourself about how much you are actually eating. The app even calculates your daily fiber and protein intake.  Gradually, aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber to help you feel fuller longer, and experience better digestive health. Fiber helps things move along more efficiently so you have less bloating along with less temptation to snack or binge. Protein also promotes satiety and feeds muscle. Although muscle weighs more than fat it is more compact so you look leaner. Muscle also supports better metabolism so when you have more muscle you burn more calories, even at rest.

Choose wisely
The holiday table is bursting with all kinds of decadent treats. Here’s a hint…you don’t have to choose them all. Pick one of a kind treats you can only get once a year, like Grandma’s world famous apple pie. Use the rest of your plate (at least ¾) for choices that support your weight goal.

Get enough sleep
Studies show that inadequate sleep interferes with healthy metabolism function. It is also true that when you’re sleepy, you’re more likely to reach for a snack. You reach for two reasons; you need a quick pick me up and you have less willpower. Help your metabolism and the temptation factor by getting 7 to 8 hours sleep most nights.

Control Cravings
According to Dr. Andrew Weil the 4-7-8 breath is great for managing anxiety, controlling cravings and sending insomnia packing. Give it a try:

meditation-972472_640Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

•    Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
•    Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
•    Hold your breath for a count of seven.
•    Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
•    This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
•    Practice every day, once each morning and again in the evening.

Count your steps
Maybe you can’t make it to the gym but you can move more. Aim for 10,000 to 15,000 steps every day. Get others involved for fun and accountability. Every step you take adds up to energy expenditure. What could be easier for weight management?

The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Use an app to log your food so you aren’t consuming too many calories blindly. Get more sleep and fiber and, finally, move more all day.