Let’s face it. 2020 is hard enough without having to worry about how to save ourselves from overindulging during the holidays. This year more than ever, we want to be able to enjoy the times we have with family and friends, and appreciate our holiday traditions without being reminded of negative outcomes.

That’s why we’re happy to give you some simple guidelines that will help get you through this season without guilt, allowing you to focus on what’s really important this time of year.

1) Don’t skip meals in preparation for holiday dinner. In fact, do just the opposite. Arriving to your get-together hungry might cause you to binge later. So, snack throughout the day, with nutritious, protein-filled snacks, and come to your dinner ready to eat but not ravenous.

2) Socialize away from the food. When in the presence of food, people tend to eat mindlessly while socializing. That said, many people also tend to congregate in the kitchen during home gatherings. You can easily suggest switching rooms to be able to converse with loved ones in another space that isn’t necessarily the hors d’oeuvres hub!

3) Stay hydrated. A great rule of thumb to remember any time of year is that thirst does not equal hunger. One can easily get confused, so reach for the water before reaching for snacks, just to be sure.

4) Limit alcohol. Being thirsty means you need water. Therefore filling up on hunger-causing alcohol and sugary mixed drinks is not the way to go when you’re watching your waistline. Drinking extra calories is unnecessary and unhealthy, so remember that the old adage “drink responsibly” has more than one meaning.

5) Remember: Regularly sized portions still exist for holiday meals. People have a tendency to go overboard with the portion sizes simply because it’s a special day of the year. But you can still enjoy all the exciting choices while remembering that you don’t need seconds on your first plate.

6) Use a smaller plate. If portion control is difficult for you, this is the way to go. Having a smaller vessel to hold your food makes you have to take less food. So again, enjoy the options, just don’t take so much.

7) Focus on the vegetables. Your plate should be more than half full of vegetables to start, a fist-size portion of protein and then a small space of complex carbs. It’s ok to mix things up once in a while, but if you’re trying to go by the same general daily guidelines as you do other days of the year, you can try to stick by this idea as well.

8) Respect your stomach. Don’t go overboard just because it’s a holiday. Practice mindful eating and listen to what your body is telling you as you eat. Wait at least ten minutes after finishing your plate to let your brain catch up with your stomach and let you know if you’re actually still hungry and ready for more or not.

The idea of maintaining healthy habits this time of year can seem overwhelming, but we are here to help with any questions or struggles you may be facing. Following these strategies can be helpful and even comforting when you know you don’t have to completely cut out your favorite holiday food for the sake of weight management. Be healthy, be safe, and enjoy!