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By Lauren Schmitt, MS, RD

October 20, 2012 (San Diego's East County) -- Are you worried about gaining those dreaded pounds during the holiday season?  There is no reason to accept the fact that weight gain is inevitable during the holiday season.  You have the power to stop that vicious cycle.  If your eating habits are not as healthy as you would like, use the few months prior to the holidays to make healthy changes. 

It takes six weeks to change unwanted habits, so start now.  That way, once the holidays hit, you have a healthy foundation to work with.  People who eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight year round are less likely to overindulge time after time during the holiday season. 

During the months leading up to the holidays, start experimenting with healthy recipes.  After finding a few recipes that are delicious, make an effort to incorporate them into the holiday meals instead of an unhealthy dish that is usually present.  For instance, try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.  It is an amazing substitute that you may not believe until you try it.

If sweet treats are your vice, start limiting them well in advance to lower your cravings.  That way, when the holidays roll around, you are less likely to indulge on every type of cookie.  Instead, you will savor a few of the type you enjoy most.  Once your body gets used to having less sugar, you will not crave it as much and you may not feel too well if you eat too much of it at one time.

Lastly, commit to an exercise routine year round.  Exercise should be considered another appointment in your calendar.  Schedule a work out class or weekly hike with a friend.  If hiking is your favorite type of exercise, explore different routes and plan a new route each week.  Find local exercise classes that you enjoy at a time that works for you.  Or, purchase a pedometer and shoot for 10,000 steps per day.  Adults need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise five times per week for general health.  For those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss, the goal is 60 minutes five times per week.

Do not let the holiday season get to your waistline year after year.  2012 is a time for change and you are in charge of the healthy changes you wish to make.  Focus on enjoying your family and friends during the holiday season and not just the food.  Enjoy and savor your favorite bites but there is no reason to overindulge.  It will all be back next year.

Lauren Schmitt is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer specializing in individual and corporate wellness, eating disorders, and weight management. Lauren currently owns her own business, Healthy Eating and Training, Inc., where she counsels individuals and gives them the tools to lead a balanced, healthy life through nutritious eating and physical activity. In addition to seeing clients in the private practice, Lauren has developed nutrition programs for major corporations including: Sony Pictures Entertainment and Dreamworks Animation. She has ongoing projects with the WB and recently completed a project for the Creative Artists Agency. 

If you need nutrition counseling visit Healthy Eating and Training, Inc. (

For tips on living a healthy life, ‘like’ Healthy Eating and Training, Inc. on Facebook ( 

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