7 Holiday Vices and How to Avoid Them ...

With the holiday season around the corner, guest contributor Jennifer Gilligan shares some common holiday vices and how to avoid them.

The holidays are arguably the best time of the year. No matter which holidays you celebrate, it's always nice to have events and traditions to look forward to, and to get away from regular routines, if even for a day or two.

The holidays are also a time of excess, which isn't too surprising, since we're all busy celebrating and eating delectable meals and treats. While those treats are delicious, they can have a hefty impact on your waistline, and your health in general. Here are some major holiday vices, and some tips for minimizing their effects.

1. The Delicious (but Dreaded) Munchies

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Turkey and pie and baked goods, oh my! Most family holiday traditions involve food, and not just simple food. Delicious, mouthwatering pies and cookies served alongside delectable turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. Add all that to the stress that often comes along this time of the year, and you've got yourself a dieting disaster. That's bad news, considering the U.S. obesity epidemic now includes 36 percent of the population.

When it's your turn to bring a side dish, make it a healthy one. Veggies and assorted fruit trays are usually well received, and a welcome relief from all the fattening goodies. That way, even if everything else is coated in gravy and drizzled with sugar, you'll have a healthy option to snack on.

2. The Festive Bender

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For many people, the holidays come hand in hand with booze. Lots of it. Even those who don't regularly drink get a little angsty when eggnog starts making its appearance on supermarket shelves, and red wine with Thanksgiving dinner is almost a given. Once Christmas rolls around, we're all geared up to do it all over again!

It's hard to resist it when your loved ones are close and everyone's happily chatting and sipping on their holiday beverages. Of course you'll want to join in, but to avoid going overboard, keep the alcoholic beverages limited to one per meal, and drink it slowly. The slower you drink it, the more time you give your body to metabolize the alcohol, and the less likely you'll be to overdo it. The holidays are a time you'll want to spend with your loved ones, not in an alcohol treatment facility. Another tip is to follow alcoholic beverages with water. As always, designate a driver, unless you plan on sleeping elsewhere.

3. Excessive Spending

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During the holidays, we just want go out with friends and family and shop...a LOT! This is incredibly dangerous, especially when you get back home, look at your wallet, and realize that you've basically spent the rent and the bills on a good time at the local hangout spot.

The one word that no one wants to hear but one thing everyone should during the holidays and that is budget. You donโ€™t have to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but itโ€™s probably a good idea to know exactly when to seal up the wallet and say no to dessert at that fancy restaurant.

4. Family Fight

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Weโ€™ve all been there. One family member invites another that you just simply donโ€™t get along with. Youโ€™re trying to be nice to this person, but you weren't ready to put up with their double edged sense of what they call humor. Your mom mentions something and this beloved member decides to stick their finger in that nearly healed wound and rip it open. Then the theatrics start. The holiday family fight. It happens every year and now no one is keeping score anymore. So how do you keep it from happening? Develop the biggest sense of humor in the room.

When the theatrics start, and family brows are furrowed and sweating, find your happy place and create a joke out of all of it. Pick a handful of things that have been universally laughed at by all members of your family and piece it together with the topic of discussion. Itโ€™s not such a bad thing to be the family clown, especially when youโ€™ve saved your auntโ€™s famed roast.

5. Sleeping Excessively

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Itโ€™s very tempting to jump in bed and stay there all holiday season long. During the busy times, youโ€™re working, some are schooling, and others are doing a combination of both. Letโ€™s not even start with the social life. Feeling the holidays come around is like a relief package waiting to be opened. Yes you should sleep a little extra, but not all day every day. Youโ€™ll never get to save the day or go out and have a little fun.

How do we avoid giving the sandman more than his rightful dues? We sleep well in the upcoming months. Getting plenty of sleep during your busy season is enough to start regulating your bodyโ€™s sleeping schedule. Donโ€™t save up the yawns and sleeplessness for the weekends. Go ahead and turn in a little early when you feel sleep knocking at your door, and when itโ€™s time to wake up, get up slowly to give your body time to reboot itself.

6. Gift Timing

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Holiday shopping can make otherwise conservative spenders go overboard. Many people like to start early, and begin to look for holiday gifts before the crowds hit the malls. This is a great tip for cutting the stress out of holiday shopping, but don't start so early that you forget what you've purchased once the holidays actually roll around. However, donโ€™t start too late or youโ€™ll probably end up falling prey to the nightmare of last minute pickings or the day after Thanksgiving. Thereโ€™s a delicate balance to be revered when it comes to shopping

Holiday closeout sales can create a warped sense of urgency while you're shopping too. Has anyone heard of Black Friday? Just because that beautiful display of cozy sweaters is on sale doesn't mean you have to buy it.

The solution is to budget wisely. Brainstorm ahead of time which items would make great gifts for each person on your list, and then set a spending limit for each. Go to the stores with that purpose in mind, and consider bringing only as much cash as you've budgeted for yourself. This will keep you from going off the deep end with those tempting holiday sales.

7. Niceness Obligation

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Just because itโ€™s time for seasons greetings doesnโ€™t mean itโ€™s time to be fake. A lot of times people will attend functions they donโ€™t want to go to, or talk to someone they have no interest in talking to all because someoneโ€™s played the ยซitโ€™s the Holidaysยป card. You donโ€™t have to throw on the plastic cheese just to make the world a better place.

Avoid being anyone but yourself, even around the holidays. The easiest way to do this is to express why you donโ€™t want to in the most straightforward and diplomatic way possible. If the other party keeps pushing just tell them youโ€™d rather not and go have yourself a nice warm cup of cocoa. Nothing staves off the Grinchiness like a hot cup of chocolate and your favorite holiday jazz CD.

The holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with family and enjoy the longstanding traditions you've all come to know and cherish over the years. Don't let this year's festivities destroy your diet or your finances. Keep these vices and solutions in mind once the family events start to roll around.

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