It’s the holiday season and I am excited to enjoy the festivities with my kids and family. The holidays are a great time to reflect on the year and catch up with long-time friends and loved ones. But let’s be real: for a lot of people, the holidays can be really stressful because of all the parties and food. We end up eating too many low-nutrition celebration foods and not enough of the nourishing foods that help us get through the day with energy to spare. It sets us up for weight gain, a downward energy spiral and cravings we can end up dealing with for months. Yes, months! It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five tips to help you survive the holidays so you can enjoy them, not dread them:

  1. Know Yourself – Are you a moderator or an abstainer? In other words, can you eat a bite of something and be happy with that one bite, or do you feel compelled to eat the entire platter of food once you have a nibble? If you fit in the second category, it is best to avoid that food altogether! When you’re aware of how you react to various foods, you will be able to make empowering choices for yourself, not emotional choices.
  2. Do Not Go Hungry – Is it a good idea to go to the grocery store hungry? Of course not! The same is true when you go to a holiday event. Going to a party on an empty stomach is a recipe for overeating the wrong foods. Instead, make sure you eat your normal meals throughout the day. Then have a nourishing snack and a glass of water before you head to the party, so you won’t be tempted to attack the buffet the minute you arrive.
  3. Bring a Nourishing Dish – Make the party host’s life (and yours) easier by bringing a tasty, nourishing dish to the buffet so you won’t have to choose between going hungry and sabotaging your food plan. Try my Red, White and Blue Salad—it tastes fantastic and it’s a nourishing alternative to traditional holiday side dishes that are loaded with added sugars, unhealthy fats and fast carbohydrates.
  4. Focus on People, Not the Food – Time spent with friends and loved ones does not need to be time spent eating. Plan gatherings that involve being active together – take a wintery walk or go sledding or skiing.
  5. Avoid Drinking Your Calories– Holiday cocktails can pack in a lot of empty calories—from 300 to over 500 per serving! If you’re a woman who needs about 1600 calories each day, that’s almost a quarter of your daily allotment! Also, a serving is a mere 5 ounces, not the 8-10 ounces we typically think of. If this is a delicate dance for you, play it safe and stick to beer or wine and alternate each alcoholic drink with a full glass of water – you will feel fuller, eat and drink less, and the extra hydration will help you feel better the next day.

Incorporate these baby steps into your holiday routine to leave you feeling healthy and nourished for the new year. You will love the way you feel!