If you’re like most people, you’ll gain an extra pound or two by the end of the holiday season. That may not sound too bad until you read the research. Most of us never actually lose that sneaky holiday weight. The pounds continue to add up year after year, making holiday weight gain a big problem!

You don’t have to fall into this trap. It’s possible to enjoy the winter holidays without putting on any extra weight. Here are five healthy holiday eating and lifestyle strategies to keep weight loss off of your New Year’s resolution list once and for all!

  1.  Never attend a party when you’re overly hungry. Before heading out the door, grab a protein-rich snack to curb hunger and keep cravings at bay. Try a few slices of organic deli turkey or a handful of nuts. That way you’re less likely to overindulge at the buffet or the dessert bar. Calories aren’t everything, but they do matter!
  2. Bring your own healthy appetizer and side dish. This way, you can be sure that there will be at least a few healthy options at the party. Some of my favorite starters include a crudite platter with hummus, pomegranate guacamole with gluten-free crackers, and bacon-wrapped dates (make sure to buy natural, nitrate-free bacon). A festive salad makes a healthy and delicious side dish. This easy recipe is always a crowd-pleaser:  http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/rainbow-kale-slaw.
  3. Drink a glass of water in-between cocktails. It’s not just about cutting calories from alcohol, it’s about curbing the food calories, too. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions so you won’t have as much control over what and how much you eat. Water is also important for hydration, especially when imbibing in holiday cheer.
  4. Bake “healthier” holiday desserts. In my house we eat a lot of pumpkin pie this time of year. It tastes like a decadent dessert, but it’s packed with vitamin A and fiber, and it’s low in fat. This is my go-to gluten-free/dairy-free pumpkin pie recipe:  https://elanaspantry.com/paleo-pumpkin-pie/. Don’t feel guilty about indulging in your favorite holiday treats. Just be mindful to savor every bite. And remember, if you don’t love it, don’t eat it!
  5. Keep up your exercise routine and healthy sleep habits. Make time for exercise to keep your metabolism humming.  (Bonus: Exercise also lowers stress and boosts immune function!) Whether it’s hitting the gym or the trails, exercise creates a positive mindset that can help you to be more conscious of your food choices. Even a brisk walk before and after meals has positive health benefits! It’s equally as important to practice good sleep hygiene during the holidays. Too little sleep can increase your likelihood of weight gain (and negatively impact your performance the next day!). Aim for 8 hours of good quality sleep each night.

Happy holidays! Until next time, make every bite count!