It’s the most wonderful time of the year, almost everyone is celebrating something, and you’ve been doing pretty well with your diet. But there are a lot of special events and parties coming up, and you’re dreading being derailed. You might be thinking, “All that great progress out the window. I’ll start over again after New Year’s.”

What if you didn’t have to “start over”? What if you could stay the course through the holidays? The great news is that you can! I promise you can, and it doesn’t mean you have to forgo all the fun stuff. You can have your cake and eat it, too, so to speak. Here are a few tips for surviving the holidays while trying to eat healthier.

01 Eat slowly and mindfully.

Whatever you do, wherever you find yourself, follow this one rule and you will benefit. It takes 20 to 30 minutes before the body tells the brain that it’s full, so slow down! When you eat slowly, you taste everything better anyway. Savor your food. Then, stop yourself when you’re starting to feel full. Don’t wait until you feel bloated. Step away from the plate until the next meal.

02 Mind your calories.

Please know that you DON’T have to count your calories to be successful at this. You just have to be mindful of your intake. If you’re going to have a larger meal at one time of the day, then go lighter for the meals before and after. It’s all about balance.

03 Keep the Healthy Plate in mind.

Whether you’re planning lunch, mingling at a party, or sitting down for dinner with the family, make sure non-starchy veggies get put on the plate first. Fill half your plate with them, leaving a little bit of room to add some protein and starches, too. This ratio is what your body needs to stay nourished. The goal is to feel good and energized after a meal, not ready for a nap.

04 Bring a healthy dish with you to share.

Attending a party? There will probably be plenty of unhealthy foods spoken for, so bring something else. And I don’t mean a boring tray of raw veggies. I mean take the initiative to dress up those veggies and make them shine. You could even use one of these recipes. Lately, I’ve been bringing this kale salad to events, and it’s been a hit. So many people ask me for the recipe that I keep a copy of it saved on my phone. Your friends, family, and co-workers will thank you. Trust me!

05 Finally, don’t skip your exercise!

This might not sound food-related, but it is. Exercise is what your body needs to maintain a healthy metabolism. If you have an exercise routine, stay on top of it. This might even be a great time to increase the intensity or length of your workout. Schedule exercise around your holiday plans. A 30-minute workout is enough to keep your metabolism humming the rest of the day, and your body will be better at handling a few extra calories.

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