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Healthy Holiday Eating Habits

The holidays don’t have to derail your diet. As you’re making the party rounds this season, a little planning goes a long way to ensure healthy holiday habits. Follow these simple guidelines to avoid the most common holiday pitfalls.

Maintain your routine. The holidays are usually a frenetic time, which is why it is so important to maintain a sense of normalcy. Stick to your normal meal plan as much as possible. Continue to shop for your typical grocery staples and prepare healthy meals for your family. If you eat well most of the time, a few splurges at holiday parties are not likely to have lasting effects.

Manage stress. Most of the time, overeating at holiday events is the result of stress. Under other less-stressful circumstances, we might find it easier to pass up the rich desserts; however, when we’re tired and overwhelmed, we’re more likely to reach for sugary, starchy treats. Manage your stress by getting plenty of sleep and exercise throughout the season. You’ll be less likely to indulge in treats and more likely to indulge in conversation.

Stock up on snacks. It’s a busy season. Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, and vegetables so you can set yourself up for grab-and-go success.

Pre-eat. Don’t arrive hungry to a holiday party. Face it—you’re there to socialize, not to eat. So, make the party about the people, not the food. Arrive with a full belly and focus on the conversation and hilarity.

Stay hydrated. Often we mistake dehydration for hunger. Drink plenty of water this season and you’ll be less likely to reach for empty calories.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol is full of empty calories that are correlated with an increase in abdominal fat. Furthermore, alcohol reduces our inhibitions and often causes us to nibble when we aren’t really hungry. Limit your alcohol intake and you’re more likely to make healthy food choices.

Breathe. Take a few deep breaths before you indulge. Sometimes that simple pause enables us to reach for the veggie tray instead of the cookie platter.

Indulge. Face it—some holiday treats are irresistible and only appear once a year. It’s okay to indulge. Save your splurges for the treats you really love. If you don’t love it, why bother?

The holidays are not a license to eat anything we want, but they don’t have to be about deprivation either. Find a balance and enjoy the season. Happy, healthy holidays!