The holiday season is a wonderfully festive season. It’s a time for reconnecting with family and friends, reflecting on the year past and setting our hopes for a better new year. It is also the most tempting season of overindulgence. We tend to spend too much in the mall and eat to our hearts content. You may not realize it but all that grazing at the company party, sample tasting at the Costco end aisles and licks off the cookie baking spatula can and do count as calories consumed. Thankfully there are a few tricks to help keep you in check so when January rolls around you won’t be afraid to face your bathroom scale.

AT THE OFFICE PARTY

TIP 1. Don’t go to the party hungry. It is never smart to go to the company party on an empty stomach. You are probably going to be drinking and it is always better to have something in your belly before you imbibe plus it’s embarrassing to bulk up on the cheese and crackers in front of your co-workers. Have a cup of chicken or vegetable soup at home prior to a night out. It is warm, tasty and filling.

Tip 2. Socialize instead of scarf. Looking to get ahead in the company? Then it’s better to work the room than work over the food tables. If you move around the party and talk to your fellow employees you are less likely to stand near the party trays. Your mouth will be moving sharing good cheer and you won’t have time to fill it up with food. Remember it’s not polite to eat with your mouth full!

AT THE BIG BOX STORE

Tip 1. They just love to tempt you with a deep fried this or that, candy corn and other high calorie holiday favorites. To resist those end aisle temptresses in shower caps pack your own healthy snacks in a ziplock bag to take along while you shop. A handful of almonds and craisins will feel like a holiday treat without the extra calories of say a small square of that Cinnabon.

Tip 2. Gum is the answer. Gum not only keeps your mouth occupied, it can satisfy your sweet craving.  Just the act of chewing sends an appetite suppressant message to your brain. My new favorites are Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights. Try the Chocolate Mint Ice Cream flavor. YUM! (Click on the link for a free pack!!)

IN YOUR KITCHEN

Tip 1. That spoon full of raw cookie dough is so tempting! But two scoops of the stuff is equivalent to 500 calories. And cookie dough is made with raw eggs which may contain salmonella and can cause food poisoning.

Tip 2. Our desire to eat is largely affected by our sense of smell. It has been shown that a tempting scent like cinnamon and sugar can create a sense of hunger while mint can suppress our appetite. While you are baking those tasty treats for friends and family open your kitchen window. This will allow the smell to dissipate in the house rather than linger and trigger your tummy. Keep some mint leaves handy and take a whiff while your working. Or chew a piece of mint gum which will keep your mouth busy and satisfy your hunger pangs.

This season enjoy the holidays without packing on the pounds.