Say “yes” to holiday cheer!

During the holiday season, it seems as though we are inundated with messages that resemble this:

“Say no, no, no….”

“Keep calories low!”

“Eat less.”

“Don’t stress.”

“Cut it out.”

“Make it a stout!”

“Don’t indulge.”

“Watch your bulge.”

“Eat this, not that.”

“Keep your tummy flat!”

I could go on, but my waist size grows just thinking about all these cautionary messages.

My philosophy is always more about moderation than deprivation, so here’s my top 10 list of things to remember around the holidays (at least as it pertains to eating, drinking and exercising).

1. Remove guilt from your vocabulary. The more guilty you feel about culinary indulgences, the more you eat. It’s a no-win, vicious cycle. So enjoy the occasional treat and don’t beat yourself up over it.

2. Moderate your intake. Just because you get dozens of cookies, coffee cakes and candy canes as gifts doesn’t mean you have to eat them all within 24 hours. Eat a few each day and enjoy!

3. Re-gift. Maybe if you get one too many sweet treats, re-package them and give them to someone who would appreciate the sweets, such as a local food bank or family in need.

4. Relax. I’m sure I’m as guilty as the next person about trying to keep everyone happy by making big, fancy meals when the family arrives. But take your time, ask for help and by all means, make someone else clean up if you did all the cooking.

5. Simplify. Not every meal has to be fit for a king. Everyone else is tired of eating a lot, too. So skip extravagant appetizers and fancy desserts, or take other short-cuts to keep the meal easier to make (and less indulgent to eat).

6. Keep it healthy. Make sure you have all your major food groups and don’t skimp on the healthy stuff. No one said every holiday dish had to be rich to be good!

7. Exercise before all big meals and parties. This has two profound implications. One, when you go to the trouble to take care of your body, it makes you more cognizant of what you’re putting into to it. Second, you’ll burn at least some of the calories you’re eating.

8. Pick and choose. If you go to someone else’s house for the holiday, you don’t have to eat everything that is served. Do your best to pick and choose without alienating the host.

9. And exercise some more. Sure, you’re busy. But exercise is just what you need to stay sane, take a break and boost the metabolism.

10. Let go of expectations. Rather than being wrapped up in expectations of what you thought the holiday could or should be, relax and enjoy it for what it is. Big blessings come in small packages.

Melinda Hinson