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The holidays can be a lovely time to spend with family and friends; however, it can wreak havoc on a healthy eating habits. A change in normal eating habits may result in excess weight gain, which tends to be harder to lose. Over time this can be additional weight a person carries, which may create health conditions that can be prevented by utilizing healthy eating habits.

The main culprits are foods with increased amounts of sugar, fat, sodium, and calories. So here are 10 simple tips to consider that will help you engage in healthy eating habits:

1. Eat before you leave the house. Eating something at home before heading for a holiday gathering will mean that you are already satisfied and not starving, which means that you are less likely to indulge in a large amount of food. Also, eat breakfast to prevent overeating later in the day.

2. Bring a healthy dish. Contributing a healthy option for the holiday meal will ensure that there is something you are certain will help you stick to your healthy eating habits.

3. Keep a food diary. Maintaining a record of what you are eating will help you stay committed to your habits and goals. There is a number of websites and mobile apps that can help with this process. In addition, you can also easily track how much water you are drinking and how much you are exercising.

4. Choose foods wisely. Filling the plate with whole foods, leafy greens, vegetables and non-creamy vegetables dishes, and lean protein is key. Keep your plate bright and avoid dull-colored foods, such as processed foods, sauces and dips because they tend to have a lot of sugar, fat and calories. To control portion sizes, use a smaller plate and serving utensils,  make sure that your food does not stack on top of each other, and keep your plate throughout the whole meal, so that you can avoid taking a second trip to the table. Also, choose to be the last in line to decrease the visual appeal of food.

5. Watch your alcohol intake. Alcoholic beverages, especially the holiday-flavored ones, are loaded with added sugars and calories. Keep your drinking under control by diluting the alcohol with some club soda, a little cranberry juice, and lemon and lime wedges. Also, drinking from tall, skinny glasses will help you pour less. Always remember to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.

6. Be a helpful guest. Helping out the host throughout the gathering by collecting and doing

the dishes, serving drinks, and playing with the small children will allow you to keep moving and not only sit around and eat. The host will be grateful for the help and you will get a chance to burn off some of the foods you ate.

7. Eat in a smaller group. Eating in a large group will cause you to eat more because it takes longer to sit through a whole meal, so be the last one to sit down and the first one to get up. You can volunteer to sit at the kids table. Also sitting next to another healthy eater is helpful, so that the two of you can help keep each other in check.

8. Grab a mint immediately after a meal. A fresh palate will help curb second helpings, cravings, and additional snacking. Also, to avoid noshing, stand further away from the table and move around the room.

9. Wear slimmer fitting clothes. People tend to wear clothes with an elastic waist for the holiday parties, which allows you to eat a lot of food without feeling discomfort. So to keep yourself in check, avoid elastic waists or wear a belt to ensure you can still fit into your favorite slim-fitting pants.

10. Maintain an exercise schedule. The holiday season can get very busy, but making sure to get some sort of daily exercise will be essential. The key is to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, so break it up throughout the day, get others involved to play outside, organize a workout-date with a friend ahead of time, and take a walk with Grandma. Even all the holiday shopping from store to store will count.

11. Consider your surroundings. The holiday theme is wrapped up in a red color scheme, which is the color that stimulates appetite. So avoid eating places that are heavily decorated from top to bottom.

Utilize these strategies to help you enjoy the holiday gatherings while still maintaining the healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

Have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Have any questions? Have something to add? Contact me below in the comments, at drtijana.dc@gmail.comFacebook, or Twitter!

Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana

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