The holidays are here! If you’re like most Americans, much of your celebration revolves around food. If extra pounds are not on your Christmas list, be a smart cookie and eat accordingly. Leslie Hamilton, a professional leadership coach from Auckland, New Zealand, has developed a diet program called LESS: Lifetime Eating for Slimness and Success. By adopting some of her basic diet tools, you might get through the holidays without carrying extra baggage into the New Year.

Eat the Foods Your Body Loves

When you sit down for that holiday feast with the in-laws, partake of the dishes you love and pass the others by. Start out with very small portions—you can always help yourself to seconds. If yours is a family with an “eat everything on your plate” philosophy, starting small will save you indigestion and pounds later.

“When you eat something you love, it’s usually the first bite that tastes best. By the time you get to the end of a big bowl of ice cream, you probably aren’t even tasting it,” Hamilton says. “Enjoy that first bite and savor it. Chances are that will be enough.”

Another aspect of eating foods your body loves is eating the foods that are good for your body. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and made-from-scratch foods will leave you feeling better after dinner and lighter after the holidays.

Savor Every Bite
First of all, relax…take a deep breath. Leave the chaos of the past few hours of preparation behind. (Perhaps this is why many cultures engage in a prayer before meals.)

When you take that first fork-full of mom’s famous mashed potatoes, enjoy it fully. Tune out the table conversation and concentrate on the texture, flavor and the sensations that accompany chewing, tasting and swallowing. As you learn to enjoy each bite more, you will find that your appetite will crave less. You see, eating is meant to be a sensual experience. When you don’t pay attention to your senses, they are not satisfied and you think you want more food.

Tune In To Your Tummy Gauge
Imagine that your stomach has a gauge on it, like the gas tank in your car. Watch that gauge closely and you will be rewarded with better health! If you are trying to lose weight, a good time to stop eating is when that gauge gets to half full. When your enjoying that holiday feast, go ahead and fill it to full—but then stop. Your stomach is about the size of your fist, so fill your plate accordingly. Of course, it is a very flexible fist, much like a thick skinned balloon, it will expand beyond its normal capacity if you insist on overstuffing it. Conversely, don’t wait till the gauge is on empty before you eat—that leads to impulsive, out of control overeating.

Throw Guilt Out with the Garbage
If all three of your cousins brought green bean casserole and you insisted on trying each one, then so be it. If you couldn’t resist eating one piece of each kind of pie, fine. Don’t dwell. Think about why you gave into these urges so you know how to resist when it’s time to implement that New Year’s resolution. As Hamilton often tells her clients, “There’s no such thing as failure…only feedback.”

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