The fall and winter months are full of holidays based around food — there’s candy at Halloween, lots of turkey at Thanksgiving, and following Thanksgiving, probably all the Christmas cookies you could ever ask for. Getting to enjoy good food is certainly something to be grateful for, and there’s no reason not to let yourself indulge a little. However, for anyone trying to stick to a nutritious diet for health or personal reasons, the holidays can certainly present challenges.

Many holiday meals are served buffet-style, and before you know it, you’re heading up for seconds and thirds! Even food that’s healthy can become unhealthy if you eat too much. Wondering how to keep your holiday eating reasonable? Check out these tips.

1. Get Moving After a Meal

You don’t have to run a marathon after you just ate Christmas dinner, but getting in some light physical activity helps you digest your food and burn off some calories. Ask your cousin that you haven’t seen for a while to go on a short walk, or if there are kids at your holiday event, offer to play a few games with them to get your body moving!

2. Opt for a Healthy Late-Night Snack

Every holiday party inevitably has a few leftovers that get forced into your hands as you walk out the door. Instead of indulging in that half a pumpkin pie when you get the midnight munchies, make yourself a healthy late-night snack.

Then, have that piece of pumpkin pie for after-dinner desert tomorrow, instead of during the late hours when our bodies have a harder time digesting food while we sleep. Make sure you have both sweet and salty healthful snacks available to munch on before bed!

3. Don’t Skip Meals

Many of us are guilty of skipping breakfast or lunch in advance of a delicious holiday dinner. However, forgoing meals can lead to overeating. Skipping meals also slows down your metabolism to the point where you can’t burn off food efficiently. Eat a healthy breakfast and a light lunch before heading out to your holiday parties.

4. Savor Every Bite

It takes 20 minutes or more for your brain to get the signal that the rest of your body is full. When you start chowing down on a holiday feast in record time, it’ll take a little while for your brain to catch up, which can cause you to eat more than you intended.

Try to pace yourself by savoring each bite. This is a mindfulness habit that can also create a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for the food we eat. Take the time to chew thoroughly, and you’ll better understand when you’ve had enough to eat.

5. Eat with a Small Group

A large gathering can cause you to blend into the crowd without much thought of the people around you. When you eat with a smaller group, you can stay more in tune with the discussion and concentrate more on that so that you can pace yourself better!

You don’t have to be obvious or super focused on it, but try to be the last one to start eating at your table and the first or second to finish. That way, you can make sure you pace yourself — even if everyone else isn’t!

6. Sample Desserts

The dessert table is a crowd favorite, but usually not a healthy body’s best friend. When everything looks good, try getting a very small sample of each dessert. You’ll get to try everything without eating an entire plate full of desserts.

7. Go Easy on Yourself

Finally, don’t let the stress of maintaining a healthy diet keep you from enjoying the holidays too much. Indulge in what you want to eat and try to stick to small portions if you want to keep up your healthy diet. If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up — you can always pick it up again after the holidays!

Make the Holidays Great

Make your holiday parties and gatherings this year the best yet by sticking to healthy food choices and following the tips above. Don’t forget to indulge a little, but keep your health in mind. You’ll feel happier, healthier and ready to take on whatever life throws at you this holiday season!

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