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We all know what happens… Maybe it's from what we’ve read about heading home for the holidays or family gatherings. And that's how it’s going to affect our health and fitness goals that we've been so good about sticking to all summer and fall on.

But then comes family. And Aunt Iris's fruitcake. And your grandmother’s special cookies that she made just for you. And everything else homemade and made with love, that is being offered to you with that look in their eyes, as if you don't eat it you're officially saying you don't love them!

Okay, that's an exaggeration but isn't that how it feels? It’s definitely how these calories over the holidays start to add up. So what do you do if you just know your Aunt is going to foist some cookies and fruit cake and pie on you? And if you've already made a commitment to eat healthy through the holiday season? How do you avoid all the extra guilt induced calories without alienating your entire family, and becoming an outcast in your holiday gatherings?

I think there's a few things to consider…

First, let your family know ahead of time that you're working on living a healthier lifestyle. If they don't know why you're refusing their delightful sweets and treats, of course they're going to try and take it personally. Or at least make you feel that way. No this is not the be-all end-all fix... Sometimes family, in spite of how much they love you, they will still try to guilt food and sweets upon you. Don't take that personally on your side either! For many, cooking for someone else is one of their love languages, it's just how they know how to express themselves to you. But, if they know ahead of time that you are turning over a new leaf, working on your health, and if you can share a small successes that you've already had, it will not be a surprise when you pass on seconds, or only take a tiny portion of that pie.

A second tip is just that - teeny tiny portions! If you love your look what's cooking, and you really just can't handle saying no, accept graciously but accept only a very small portion. Just a taste is truly all you need. Honestly most of our taste buds are satisfied after a bite or two anyway. So even though they may hand you a mammoth slice of pie, you don't have to take or eat the whole thing! Cut yourself off a few bites, smile graciously and thank them, and carry on about your merry way. This satisfies everybody's needs they feel appreciated, and you get a little bit of a tasty snack without completely blowing your plans. This strategy is my preferred method of handling family and the extra calories.

Option number three though is to learn to say no with grace. An easy way to do this is as easy as saying “I’m so full right now, but I'll have some later.” Or “not right this minute but thank you so much for offering.” You know, that's always been one of my favorites. Depending on your family member, and your personality, you may want to practice your responses ahead of time. But it's truly okay to say no. This is your body after all. You have 100% responsibility for what goes in your mouth. And you can own that. A smile and a genuine thank you go a long way if you do have to say no to somebody.

If your family is one of those that expresses love through copious amounts of food, a couple of these tips may help you survive the holidays with your waistline intact! Just be aware that you do not have to say yes to everything. And you can say no with grace, or manage portions, and give everybody a heads-up that you might be doing things differently this year. It's not the end of the world! It's about you preserve in your own world. And eventually they'll be okay with that.

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