Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! If you, like most of us, overindulged on some of those tasty treats read on to find out how to combat those extra calories.

Step 1: Lose the guilt.

Mentally beating yourself up for having an extra piece of pie (or in our case, eggnog cheesecake) will not do you any favours. Studies actually show that this negative thought cycle reduces your ability to get back on track.

The mental backtalk goes something like this: “Gosh I am so awful, I should never have eaten that pie. My thighs are growing as I speak! There’s no point in going to the gym, I’ll never work off all this fat. Well…I might as well have an extra piece because I’ve already ruined my diet.” Proceed to finish all leftovers.

We’ve all been there.  But let’s not go there anymore! You end up feeling overstuffed and twice as guilty afterwards.  It is okay to overindulge once in awhile- your Dietitian says so.

Lose the guilt by taking action every time one of those negative food-talk thoughts pops up.  Go for a 5 minute walk. Pick up two (evenly matched soup cans) and do 10 reps of bicep curls. Do 20 squats. Sign up for a weekly exercise class. Not only will the extra activity help burn a few extra calories it will put you in the right mindset to get right back to eating well. It will break the vicious cycle negative food talk creates.

Step 2: Move it to lose it

This doesn’t have to be mind-numbing hours on the elliptical. But do something that gets your heart pumping and your major limbs moving, even if its in 5 or 10 minute spurts. Stand up and stretch or walk to a friend’s desk every 20 minutes or so. We’ll take what we can get at this busy time of year! Moving regularly throughout the day helps keep your base metabolism a bit higher all day long. The more intense activities (the heart pumping , limb moving type) will help burn the extra energy you got from all those goodies.

Step 3: Eat light

But under no circumstances should you starve, fast, skip meals or do low calorie/restrictive detox diets. These will actually lower your chances of getting back on track with food and weight. Starving or restrictive dieting don’t give you the skills you need to eat all year round, they slow down your metabolism and tend to lead to more overeating in the long run.

Take a more balanced approach and keep most of your meals light the week after the holidays.  Try a simple soup made of broth, ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, parsely, green onions) and a small handful (less than ¼ cup) of unsalted nuts on the side. Other options include a lowfat greek yogurt with tons of fresh or frozen berries or  ½ to 1 can of tuna mixed with a bit of olive oil and Italian herbs served on 3-4 crackers with fresh veggies. The idea is to keep meals balanced (a bit of protein, lots of fruits and veg, and a moderate amount of carbohydrate either at the meal or later as a snack) to help balance blood sugar.

Step 4: Ditch the salt

While we all know that eating salt isn’t good for our heart, our intake tends to go up over the holidays. Salt also causes your body to retain extra water. It is responsible for those first 5-10 lbs you lose on a crash diet (its all water people! Don’t be fooled). While the weight you lose from cutting down on salt won’t give you a drop in dress or pant size, it will help you feel and look a bit less bloated and boost your energy. Its also smart not to extend the period you are carrying around all that extra water as its hard on your heart and blood vessels.

Avoid obviously salted foods include chips, pickles, olives, crackers (unless they are the low sodium kind), commercial dips and spreads and pre marinated/seasoned meats. Sneaky foods include all deli meats, some peanut butters and some cereals. Read your labels to make sure you are getting a good option. Great choices would be lots of fresh/frozen fruits and veggies, meats/poultry or fish seasoned with salt free rubs or lemon and herbs, unsalted nuts, dairy products aside from cheese and whole grains that aren’t of the “minute” variety.

Take home message- lose the guilt and start taking action! Every positive food or activity choice helps counteract those cravings and negative thoughts.

If you have trouble with controlling cravings or making food choices please call Westcoast Nutrition. Michelle is a certified Craving Change tm facilitator and knows from personal experience how hard it can be to learn to make the right choices and feel good about food.  6 week classes and personal coaching sessions are available. Contact us