Thanksgiving was a fatty, sugary good time. I've never been one to do the old "modified recipe" thing when it comes to traditional holidays. Mashed potatoes and gravy, eggnog, pumpkin pie – it's all good to me. Who cares what's in the eggnog? So what if that pie crust is made with lard? If this shocks you, consider this: A single day isn't what makes Americans fatter every Holiday Season. In fact, many striving, over-dieted bodybuilding enthusiasts could use a good calorie and nutrient load once in a while.

The real problem, as I see it, lies in the fact that Thanksgiving... and Christmas... and New Year's Eve are not singular, isolated events but rather an amalgamated, eight week, drawn-out "season" in which our usual tight routine goes out the window.

Time off from work, crappy gym hours, shopping, leftovers from office and family parties – these things are ongoing affairs. It's like a six to eight week, unplanned "anti-diet," pushing us towards major doughboy status. Are the physiques of Kris Kringle and Frosty a fluke? I think not.

Okay, okay, that last comment was weak but you don't have to be. Let's take a look at five quick ways to dodge the need for strict dieting this December while minimizing the physique-damaging effects of the Holiday Season. Staying reasonably lean is a good idea (less treadmill work next Spring!) but there's no need to become a freaking prude either...

See? That's not so hard. No official dieting or restrictive portions are required. We've dodged the need for such heroics. These five ways to work smart – not just hard – may just be your Holiday Holy Grail. Some forethought can really help eliminate the need for paranoid self-deprivation or the resulting guilt of perceived "failure" when you do indulge.

So there you go, my fellow holiday-hassled T-men and T-Vixens. Wacky schedules, shopping frenzies, and a cornucopia of sugary, greasy delights don't have to ruin you. Nor do you have to fear them and start acting like a portion-controlling, guilt freak. You can stay in control during the "other 24 days of Christmas" with a little prior planning. And remember, it's these non-holiday periods that really do the cumulative physique damage – not the big day itself. (For those who care, I delve into this "non-dieting diet" concept further in a future article named "Diet Planning for the Long Haul.")

Personally, I plan to fully enjoy my eggnog and pumpkin pie when the big day arrives – but ONLY on the big day. Goodies containing lard, sugar and ethanol aren't always bad and I say God bless them, every one – at least on those few days of the year I actually consume them. Homemade pastries with all their flakey goodness help make a holiday a holiday for me.

Merry Crustmas!

References:

1. Heacock P., Hertzler S., and Wolf B. Fructose prefeeding reduces the glycemic response to a high-glycemic index, starchy food in humans. J Nutr. 2002 Sep;132(9):2601-4.