The holiday season is filled with warm greetings, fun gatherings, and loads of rich food and boozy drinks. This free-for-all atmosphere can wreak havoc on your waistline and your digestive system when you trade vegetables for cookies at every meal, but by practicing mindful eating and following these tips, you can have your (fruit)cake and eat it too.

Move to Maintain – Eating a little extra at the dinner table isn’t a problem if you kick up your exercise routine to burn off the extra calories. If you exercise 30 minutes a day, increase that to 45 minutes. If you exercise 3 times a week, move it up to 5 times. You don’t have to continue this trend after the holiday season, but use this any time you plan to indulge for multiple days in a row.

Strive for Five – Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables is a great way to fill your belly without having to unzip your pants. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll eat your five servings before snacking on cookies or other sweet holiday treats.

Plan Ahead – Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack, like a serving of your favorite fruit or a handful of nuts. When you arrive at the party, pick protein-rich foods like cheese and hummus, which will help you feel full throughout the night. If you’re going to a potluck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share, like a fruit or veggie tray, so you know you will have at least one healthy item on the table.

Think in Threes – Start with 3 small appetizers, take 3 steps away from the food table, and socialize with 3 different people before making a return trip for more food. The time you spend socializing between trips will give your brain time to catch up with your stomach and indicate that you are full and shouldn’t eat more.

Rethink your Drink – Surprise! Alcohol does, in fact, have calories. Be smart about what cocktail you choose as you’re socializing with your lovely in-laws. The average eggnog packs about 350 calories per cup, while a 12 oz. of light beer or 8 oz. of wine contain about 150 calories. If you really need the hard stuff, skip the mixers and do a shot of vodka or a scotch on the rocks which contain about 100 calories.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be ready to party during the holidays instead of stuck on the couch in a food coma. Consume responsibly and have a happy holiday!

Culinary Services Group

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