For anyone trying to stay healthy, the “holidays” (basically Oct 31 to Jan 1) can be daunting. But they don’t have to be!! I used to just throw in the towel for those ~2 months of the year and say it was impossible. I’d jump back on the health bandwagon on Jan 2, essentially starting back at square one. A few years ago, I set a goal for myself to stay healthy during the holidays, and it turned out to be so much easier than I thought! I kept my weight down and my health high, and was able to keep working towards my long term goals.

Here are the simple tips I use each year to stay on track:

1. Keep up your exercise routine (or start one!)

Since you will already be with family, make exercising a bonding experience and bring along the whole family. Every Thanksgiving, my family runs or walks the Turkey Trot together. It gets us all off on the right foot (ha!) for the day and leaves me feeling more energized to stay healthy throughout the day. Many spin studios and other exercise studios will have classes around the holidays as well. A few years ago my relatively new sister-in-law and I did a spin class together the morning of Thanksgiving and it was a great way for us to bond and get prepared to eat some turkey.

2. Drink LOTS of water, especially before big holiday meals

On a normal day, I shoot for drinking at least 100 oz of water a day. On days when I know I’ll be eating a lot, I try to drink 120+ oz of water. The increased water intake helps not only to fill up your stomach, but also encourages your body to flush out sodium and not hold onto water weight. If you aren’t used to drinking this much water normally, start gradually increasing your water intake each day to acclimate your body. A great way to begin is by drinking 1-2 glasses of water before each meal.

3. Bring healthy items to holiday get-togethers

I always bring at least one or two items to any holiday parties or family gatherings. I do this because 1) I love cooking and 2) I always want to make sure there will be healthy choices on the table that I actually can (I’m gluten free) and want to eat. You don’t have to sacrifice taste either! Check out some of my favorite bloggers/chefs for flavorful and healthy holiday recipes: Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic and Danielle Walker of Against All Grain.

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m bringing the following items, which are some of my favorites:

For more options, see Carrie Vitt and Danielle Walker’s Thanksgiving Recipes:

4. Fill up your plate with veggies

This is also where bringing a veggie side is helpful, because you may be the only one who does. I try to fill up 3/4 of my plate with veggies before adding on meat or bread. That way I fill up on low-calorie foods that are nutritious and filling. This, coupled with drinking 1-2 glasses of water before my meal, helps me to not overindulge on high calorie foods that I will regret later.

5. Stop eating when you’re full!!

I’m so guilty of eating until I feel sick during the holidays. In the past, I felt that I deserved to do it because I ate so well throughout the rest of the year. Let me tell you first, IT IS NOT WORTH IT! I always regret it after and feel so sick. I am finally at a point in my life where I’ve learned from my mistakes and won’t do this anymore. Please take my word for it. 🙂

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you overdo it, remember that tomorrow is a new day

If you do overindulge though, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day and use today as motivation to stick to your plan the rest of the way through the holidays so you can meet your goals! I’ve found that the more I beat myself up, the more likely I am to overindulge at the next party or event, and the vicious cycle continues.

Above all, remember that the holidays are about relationships, family, giving back to others, and remembering what we are thankful for. Don’t lose sight of what it is all about!