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Starting your diet in the New Year is the easy option. It gives you a chance to let your hair down, relax about what you eat and start afresh in January. But starting your diet over the holidays could just be the best decision you ever make.

1. Fill up on protein.

Most holiday meals will be pretty carbohydrate and fat dense. Okay, you’ll probably have turkey, but that’s about it. Stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, parsnips and the like are all carb-laden, while things like pate, nuts, desserts and so on pack in the fats.

While there’s nothing wrong with these foods provided they fit into your calories, there’s little point having your regular morning bowl of oats and lunchtime sandwich, then having to forego all the carbs and fats later.

Switch to a protein and veggie based breakfast like an omelet, or a protein powder and berry smoothie, and have a salad at lunch to give yourself more room for carbs and fat later on.

2. Save Some Calories

You do want to stick to your calorie intake as closely as possible every day, but there’s nothing wrong with “banking” a few calories.

Your body doesn't work on a 24 hour clock, and your metabolism doesn't just stop and restart on the stroke of midnight.

Three days before thanksgiving, Christmas (or any other big event) drop your calories by 300 per day.

This gives you an extra 900 calories banked, so you don’t screw up if you do go over. Alternatively, you can do the same in the days after your biggest meals.

3. Try intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is rapidly gathering followers, due to its supposed metabolic and hormonal advantages, but it also helps control hunger.

You might think you’d be absolutely ravenous, and would eat triple your normal amount having fasted for a whole day beforehand, but this won’t be the case. In fact, while you probably would eat more than normal, it’s unlikely to be much at all.

If you can’t do with completely fasting, just have a protein shake for breakfast, another for lunch, then go for your holiday meal.

4. Factor in Alcohol

If alcohol is important to you, you needn't abstain from it, and a few drinks won’t wreck your progress.

The easiest way is to count alcohol calories as carbs or fat. Find how many calories are in your alcoholic drink and divide this by four. Say for instance a bottle of beer has 100 calories, divide this by four to get 25. You can count this as 25 grams of carbs, 25 grams of fat, or a combination of the two.

5. Enjoy Yourself

You don’t have to be perfect over the holidays. By exercising some self control you’re already doing better than the vast majority of people. 

So practice moderation, eat and drink sensibly and enjoy holiday dieting.

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