Your healthy holiday survival guide

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Thanksgiving is now behind us and with that, the holiday season officially begins. For many of my clients, this means the start of holiday madness. On the one hand, office parties, celebrations with friends and traveling to visit family can be festive and a lot of fun. On the other hand, the season can be stressful – especially if you are trying to stick with a healthy eating plan.

Sure, I could remind you that the holidays are really just three days – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day – and that on those days, you can eat whatever you want. Yep, who cares? But truth be told, that's not going to work for most of you since the problem isn't the actual meal on the holiday (though it does contribute a little) but what's happening in between.

So to help keep you on track, I have created a holiday survival guide for three common seasonal scenarios. Use it and good health – and good tidings – will follow.

The Scenario: The Office Party

  • Keep your alcohol in check. Besides the added calories – which, remember, you are supposedly watching – no one wants to be the trending topic at the water cooler the next day. Slow yourself down with glasses of water between cocktails. Leave the eggnog behind and stick with wine, beer or drinks made without any juice or added sugar. If you know favorite alcoholic beverage goes down like water, switch to something a little stronger that paces you naturally. Scotch on the rocks, anyone?
  • Buy a new outfit. Nothing like a brand new, perfectly-fitting dress to make you not want to overeat – especially if you didn't buy it on sale. Same goes for a brand-new suit that fits like a glove, top button just so. You don't want to have to squeeze into your new outfit on the day of the party or have it hang in your closet afterward with your other "skinny" clothes.
  • Mingle, mingle, mingle. Chatting with people is what a party should be about. You should be busy creating delightful conversations and networking – not chewing and talking with your mouth full.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This advice is shocking coming from me – Miss "I love stilettos" – but the longer you can stand and mingle or dance, the less likely you'll be to hit the buffet.

The Scenario: Happy Hour or Dinner Out

  • Limit alcohol (again). This time, instead of only being concerned about being the trending topic at the office, you must remember that calories from alcohol definitely add up – and rather quickly. Try to keep to a one drink limit per get-together.
  • Know your weakness. Bread? Dessert? Alcohol? As much as I want to say you can have all three, it's not a good idea if you're watching your weight. Make a decision on which indulgence you truly can't do without and enjoy only that one.
  • Choose your weapon. And by "weapon," I mean healthy meal components. Being mindful when ordering can definitely come in handy. Veggies? Yes, please. Piece of fish? Don't mind if I do. Water? Keep it pouring. Cheeseburger with fries? Maybe next time.
  • Be the leader. If possible, choose the place to meet up with your friends so you know the menu options. And remember, it's really more about the celebration with friends than the food.

The Scenario: Traveling Home

  • Go food shopping. Many of my clients complain that when they get to their destination, not a single piece of produce can be found in the house. The answer? Go get some. However, if this strategy is going to create a family feud, simply take a deep breath and let it go. It's only for a little while, right?
  • Come prepared. So maybe food shopping is out of the question, but who says you can't pack some of your go-to foods and bring them with you? Obviously, this technique is harder if you're traveling plane, but it's not totally impossible. Almonds, snack bars low in sugar and high in fiber, nut butters and 100 percent whole-grain crackers are all easily portable. Besides, if you show up with a bag of clementines, I don't think anyone will be annoyed.
  • Offer to cook. I don't know about your family, but when someone offers to help me out in the kitchen, I welcome them with open arms. There must be one meal you know everyone will enjoy. Prepare it the way you like –veggies and all. Who knows? It just might be a hit.
  • Pack your sneakers. Sure, you might not be able to fit it your usual workout, but nothing should stop you from lacing up a pair of kicks and going for a walk – or two.

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