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How To Get Back on the Diet Track After Holiday Indulgence

12/12/2014 05:43 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST

Not very many people can make it through Eating Season without going off the rails once or twice. I always tell my clients not to expect miracles during this time, such as weight loss or perfect gym attendance, although that doesn't mean that you should abandon your goals completely for the month of December.

After a night of heavy eating and drinking, you may feel bloated, tired, and heavy, but there are ways of powering through those feelings and feeling healthy again quickly.

Here are my top five ways to get back on the horse after overindulging:

Stop The Train Before It Goes Off the Cliff

First of all, don't have an all or nothing attitude. In order to feel better, you need to stop the behavior that's making you feel crappy. One or two instances of poor food choices and overindulging are certainly easier to get past than an entire two weeks of throwing caution to the winds. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and Stop. Right. There.

The holidays shouldn't be about overindulging, and if you give yourself free reign to eat whatever you want, you'll have a rude awakening in the New Year with your new friend, that extra pants size. No one needs friends like that. There is no good reason in the world to overindulge continuously over the holiday season, but for a lot of people the holidays are a bad excuse to hoover anything in sight. Enjoy special foods in reasonable portions, and continue your healthy habits from the rest of the year.

Get Rid of the Offending Food

If you have anything left over that's calling to you from the refrigerator, get rid of it. Give it away or trash it, because if you can't be trusted to avoid it when it's in your house, that's a danger zone.

To offset the crappy stuff you've eaten, fill your house with good choices so that they're readily available when you need them - pre-cut vegetables and fruits, 2% Greek yogurt, almonds, fresh sliced chicken and turkey, greens, cheese and whole grain crackers. Stocking up on healthy food and having it ready to go can put you in the proper mindset for staying on track.

Begin Eating Regular Meals and Snacks

Many people are tempted to skip meals after overindulging. They believe that restricting calories is going to help drop whatever weight they may have gained during that time, but that's a faulty concept. If you skip meals, you set yourself up to be hungrier later when you finally do decide to eat. What happens when you're really hungry at a meal? It's harder to not eat too much, and make good choices.

Don't set yourself up on the merry-go-round of gluttony-famine. Make sure you prioritize regular meals and snacks so that you're not going too long without eating.

When you do eat, make sure you have at least 2 cups of vegetables at each meal, along with lean protein. Grains should be whole and can be replaced by brightly coloured starchy vegetables like sweet potato or winter squash. Limit carbohydrate to 1/3-1/2 cup at meals to help counteract your carb overload.

Drink a Lot of Water

Not chestnut praline lattes, which are like a Snickers Bar in a cup. I'm such a scrooge, I know, but when you overindulge, much of the heaviness you feel the next day is water from all the salt and extra carbohydrate you ate. Both of these nutrients hold water, and to get rid of the bloating and heaviness, you need to drink more water. Caloric beverages aren't taking you where you want to go, people, they're just adding to your problem, and even worse, your brain isn't registering that you have taken in a load of sugar, so you're no fuller after drinking that 400 calorie cup o'sugar. Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean you need a pumpkin spice latte every day.

Increase Your Activity

Don't use the holidays as an excuse to not be active. It may take a bit of planning, but it's still important to move your body. Sweating out stress and overindulgence is a great feeling, so take advantage of whatever activity you can get in. Glycogen, which is the way your body stores carbohydrate, is the fuel for exercise, and after a huge meal you've got lots of it. Burning that glycogen can make you feel lighter, and exercise can boost your energy levels.

I also don't have to tell you that there's a smug secret happiness that comes over a person when they're at the gym while everyone else is eating cookies. Be that person.

The holidays will soon be over, but remember that they come around every year without fail. All the special foods, candy cane lattes, cocktail parties, and boxes of Lindt Lindors will be back, I promise. You don't have to eat them all this year.

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