The holidays are here, and with them come the delicious food! Family reunions and friend gatherings are everywhere, and it’s no secret that these celebrations include a lot of eating and drinking—and not necessarily the healthy stuff.
This doesn’t mean that all the effort you’ve made the entire year will vanish in a matter of weeks. If you stay present and make wise choices while standing over the dessert table, that number on your scale shouldn’t go up.
You don’t need to wait until the first of the year to get started on your resolution list; you can start making changes right now.
Here are some tips I want to share so you can face the holiday temptations with confidence and stay on track during this season full of sweets and spirits:
1. Sweat at least three times per week. Working out has many benefits: it reduces appetite, burns extra fat, keeps you young, prevents heart attacks, controls blood sugar levels, combats stress, and protects against cancer. The workouts can be simple: go for a walk or a run, a bike ride, or hit the gym! Ideally, try to go in the morning, so when the holiday commitments and events show up sporadically, you won’t use them as an excuse!
2. Eat a snack before heading to your festivities. This way, you won’t be starving and tempted to eat a dozen deviled eggs. Go for a protein and fiber-packed snack that will keep you full longer, like a plain coconut yogurt with blueberries or some almond butter on a brown rice cake.
3. Make vegetables and lean proteins the center of your plate, and try to avoid sweets and heavy sides. You’ll probably find turkey or cooked ham at just about any holiday gathering. If you want to indulge in a dessert or some butter-laden casserole, stick to a small portion.
4. Eat slow and chew each bite 30 to 50 times. Engage in a conversation with the people around you, put the fork down after every bite, and stay present. This will help you identify when you are really satisfied. Plus, you’ll enjoy mealtime so much more when you’re giving your loved ones extra attention!
5. Drink a glass of water between each glass of alcoholic drink to avoid a hangover and to keep your body hydrated. Because alcohol is full of empty calories (no nutritional value), it’s best to opt for a drink that’s at least low-calorie. Your best options are red wine (contains antioxidant properties) and vodka.
6. Make sure to move the following day after any holiday gathering. If you feel sluggish because you ate and drank too much, staying in bed is only going to make you feel worse. Get outside, drink tons of water, eat fruits and vegetables (no, not the candied version), and sweat the excess from the day before.
If you realize that you’ve been having too much fun and that all the festivities are catching up to you five pounds at a time, don’t worry. Every day and every meal is a new beginning. Once healthy choices become second nature, it’ll be easier— I promise.
Claudia Deen is a Certified Health Coach based in Savannah, GA, and the founder of The Trendy Smoothie. Claudia is a brown belt in karate, thirteen-time half-marathon finisher, seven-time marathon finisher, and two-time Ironman 70.3 finisher. After a career in advertising, her passion for fitness and fresh eating led to a career centered on helping others achieve a healthier lifestyle. In 2013, Claudia married Paula’s son, Bobby. You can follow Claudia on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.