Ah, the holidays. Cookies, cakes, 5-course dinners, drinks, parties. It’s the perfect time to throw your diet out the window and eat everything in sight, right? Wrong. It seems to be the endless Holiday cycle – starting with Thanksgiving where we go with the all-you-can eat mentality up through New Year’s Day. Then, it’s back to everyone’s favorite resolution, “this year I’m going to lose weight,” when you start eating lettuce again and fighting for a treadmill and space in your Zumba and Kick-Boxing classes.

Why put yourself through all that? I admit, I’m a repeat offender of the holiday fat cycle. But we need to own up, and get smart about avoiding those extra pounds at the end of every year. My solution (one of) is to take responsibility for my calorie consumption –500 calories or less dinners. For more tips, see below.

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Loaded Light Baked Potato Soup

Yield: 5

Ingredients

  • 2 Russet potatoes or 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, Peeled
  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 1 ½ cups Low sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 ½ cups reduced fat Milk
  • ½ cup Light Sour Cream
  • ½ cup Sargento Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
  • Chives, chopped
  • 4 slices Turkey Bacon, cooked and hand-crumbled

Instructions

  1. Stab potatoes with a fork and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour until soft. Cool and then peel and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  2. Steam cauliflower. After draining, place in a medium pot over medium heat and add chicken broth, milk and potatoes.
  3. Once boiling, turn the heat down and blend to desired texture. I like to use a hand blender but a regular blender is fine.
  4. Add sour cream, half the chives, and salt and pepper to taste, then heat on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the consistency is thick, add 1/2 cup water and heat.
  5. Serve warm. Top with cheese, chives and bacon.
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A few tips for Avoiding the Holiday Fat Cycle:

(1)    Plan ahead: Schedule dinners, parties, drinks, get-togethers and plan accordingly. If you’re going to eat one “bad” meal, you can still eat two really good meals. So you went a little overboard at last night’s cocktail party? Make up for it today.

(2)    Treat yourself, but not everyday: You have to have Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, and oh! I can’t miss out on the Salted Caramel latte or Peppermint Mocha. First, go with a tall (or a small) you’ve cut calories by reducing the size. Cut even more calories by opting for fat-free milk and sugar free/low sugar syrups, negative on the whipped cream. Lastly and most importantly, only treat yourself once (twice if you must) a week.

(3)    Exercise: Don’t forget to exercise. Once thanksgiving rolls around, we seem to forget that gym membership we’re forking out hundreds of dollars for. Take walks, run on the treadmill, drop in on a cardio fitness class, do some sit-ups and squats, something. You need to keep active and getting in 20 minutes a day will keep you from stacking on some extra pounds.

(4)    Portion Control: Buffets and Multiple-course meals are inevitable this time of year. Do not over eat just because it’s in front of you. Need to try a little bit of everything? I find eating ¼- ½ of a portion (or a bite or two) helps me stay in check.

(5)    Water, Water, Water: Studies show that if you drink more water, you consume less calories. So drink up!

(6)    Count Calories: It sucks, but now there’s more available at your fingertips that can help you keep your calories in check. After you determine how many calories you should consume, start tracking. My favorite tracker is My Fitness Pal you can add in calories manually, or scan barcodes, you can even add in your own recipes. The food search function on Calorie King will find foods from hundreds of brands and restaurants. And there are tons of Apps out there to help you out. The internet and Apple are your oyster. Use them to your advantage.