The holidays are fast approaching. That means trimming the tree, putting up lights, giving gifts, sharing warm wishes and creating fond memories with family and friends, alike.

It also means long tables covered with all our favorite foods and goodies from childhood. This is a tough time for people watching their waistlines to maintain the healthy eating habits they have struggled to achieve all year. Here are some tips to help you enjoy this holiday season and not completely blow months of hard work at weight loss.

• On the day of a party, eat your meals as usual, and have a light healthy snack before the party. This will prevent you from being ravenously hungry when you arrive, allowing you to make better choices.

• Wear form-fitting outfits to holiday parties. This well help you to be aware of your eating. If your clothes start to feel too tight, that will give you a physical reminder to slow down.

• Wait 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything at a party. This will give you time to survey the food and beverage options so you can make better choices.

• Keep a beverage in your dominant hand. This will make it more difficult to snack mindlessly on appetizers while socializing. Also, keep in mind that alcohol is very high in calories, so enjoy a few drinks, but be sure to alternate these with water for a zero-calorie healthy option.

• Bring a healthy dish to share with everyone. That way, you have at least one low-calorie, healthy item to rely on.

• Be mindful of portion size. Trim off the extra skin and fat from meat when feasible. Go easy on the known high fat and calorie foods like gravy and desserts.

• Make sure to have some of your favorites, but keep the portion sizes small, and eat slowly to savor the flavors. This way you will not feel deprived or entitled to eat more at the next party because you sacrificed at the last one.

• Be the life of the party. Focus on family, friends, dancing or other activities, rather than the food.

• If you are the host, consider healthy alternatives or small changes to traditional favorites. Use low- or non-fat cream or milk instead of the full-fat varieties. Serve whole-grain breads, add veggies or beans as side dishes, and try to grill, bake, or broil when cooking.

• Most of all, have fun. And remember that one day of indulgence will not sabotage all your efforts as long as that day does not become one long celebration into the new year, when you again make that resolution to lose weight and get in shape. The party lasts for one day. Then get right back on track.

We offer you and your family the warmest of holiday wishes. Have a wonderful New Year’s Day, and stay strong, joyful, and healthy.

This article should not be used as a substitute for seeing a doctor.

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