Celebrate Smart This Holiday Season

Holidays can be awesome. Fun-filled, delicious get togethers are waiting to be had by all. Family, presents, snow (when it falls), pretty lights and all the light-hearted movies and music you could want. That’s the good news. And now, the bad news. Holiday season is High-Calorie season. The average American eats a little over 3,000 calories and 150 grams of fat in a typical Thanksgiving meal. On Christmas day, the average person eats more than 7,000 calories. That’s only two days during the season—and doesn’t count any other get-togethers or special meals you may enjoy.

So many people throw up their hands and declare a holiday from their diet and exercise routines from November to January. Why bother when it’s so difficult to resist temptation? Take heart: here are some tips to help you enjoy the holiday season and stay focused on your healthy-body endgame.

Remember your goals. Remember why you are exercising and watching what you eat. Good health is a lifestyle choice, not a fad diet. Most of us have specific reasons why we watch what we eat and exercise regularly. Remind yourself of those reasons every day. Write them down and post them on your fridge or bathroom mirror. You are worth it.

Limit alcohol and/or drink skinny. Alcohol can torpedo a healthy diet pretty quickly, both with extra calories and the reduced inhibitions can that lead to regrets, whether dietary or otherwise. But you can enjoy a few cocktails and still stay on track. The best option is to drink less and alternate with low calorie mocktails (stores are loaded with savory, nonalcoholic drinks this season) and water. Say yes to clear liquors mixed with club soda and citrus, light beer, or a martini straight up. Just say no to cream-based drinks (yes, that means egg nog, white Russians and mudslides), sweet mixers like fruit juice and syrups, frozen drinks (sorry daquiri lovers) and Long Island Iced Tea.

Stay active. Keep exercising and moving all season long. Maintaining or even increasing your daily exercise routine will help counteract the extra calories you pick up this time of year. Keep your metabolism as high as you can by adding some aerobic exercise: Take the dog out for an extra walk or better yet, a run. Take the stairs. Park farther away from the store entrance. It all adds up and will help keep extra pounds at bay.

Get enough rest. Sleep is important all the time, but never more so than during the holiday season. When you lose sleep, your metabolism slows, which means you burn fewer calories than usual. Additionally, a recent study published in the Journal of Lipid Research suggests that sleep deprivation can make you feel less full after eating and cause issues with the way your body metabolizes fat. Getting enough rest helps your body stay on track, and helps keep you in a happy holiday mood.

Enjoy your meals. Remember to have fun and give yourself some leeway. Nobody’s perfect and not every day will go as planned. So, rather than worrying about your diet, prepare. To start, try a protein-rich breakfast. If you start the day feeling full, you won’t snack as much. When you do reach for a snack, make sure it’s a healthy one and no, that doesn’t always mean a carrot stick. Stock up on nuts, fruit and popcorn (without butter) to help you make it through the day. Drink a glass of water before dinner.

Then, when you do sit down to a lovely meal, enjoy it. The whole point the holiday season is to celebrate with family and friends. After the last year and half, we all deserve a few breaks and holiday dinners are one of them.