The holidays are right around the corner, so that means let’s just throw on that chunky knit scarf over your bulky cold weather jacket, right? No need to hibernate under layers and just say, “Screw it, I’m back on the wagon in January!” Holiday season is notorious for taking the most health conscious person to the dark side with its parties, drinks and desserts. And I’m here to tell you – go there, but don’t lose yourself and your health in the process.  Here are some tips to help navigate the holidays with health, style and above all, happiness.

Be a Planner

I totally get it; things come up out of the blue. Last minute invites aren’t discouraged by any means, but they can make your health plans messy. I encourage my clients to meal plan their weeks, as best possible. And I do the same at home, especially as a working mom of a toddler and another little girl soon to arrive. My husband and I hang a dry erase board inside a cabinet we use daily (I like to keep my kitchen area/fridge/walls as streamlined and clutter-free as possible with kids and a busy family, so keeping it tucked away there still makes it visible to us!) We roughly sketch out what’s on the “eating agenda” every week. It’s never a fixed plan, because life is so unpredictable! But for the most part, it does keep us honest and accountable to planning & actually following through on the healthy meals we chose and shopped for. We also write out social events, date nights (rare!), meals out, etc. If you have a general idea of what your week looks like, you can plan healthy meals around the “fun” stuff. It’s not so much saving your calories for that cocktail party, but seeing that there is a place for fun, as well as health, in every week. Life is too short, so have that drink (especially for me right now!)

“Don’t just assume the holidays equal oversized knits over leggings or loose pants as your outfit of choice.”

Dress the Part

Don’t just assume Thanksgiving equals oversized knits over leggings or loose pants as your outfit of choice. Choose clothing that makes you feel good about you. It also keeps you conscious of what and how much you are eating and drinking throughout the meal, party, etc. Don’t hide or get lost in clothing because you feel embarrassed about your consumption or weight. Instead, rock the latest trends, feel good in your skin and enjoy the company you are with. This takes your focus off the food, and places it on the people. And that is what really matters.

Take It All In

You’ve heard it all before – inventory your options before you dig in! Walking into any event, we oftentimes jump right into the first cheese plate, passed hor d’oeuvre, or cocktail that the host, your friend or just your empty belly direct you towards. Instead, work the room! Walk around, mingle, say hello and subtly survey the food and drink situation. Focus on what you really want.

Enjoy!

Holiday season is special for a reason. It only happens once a year, so make it count. Enjoy the parties, the family, the friends and spirit of the season. Balance your plate just as you would any meal, full of fresh veggies and lean proteins, but leave room for something (not everything!) special. Honestly, if Aunt Bea’s caramel tassie cookies are everything to you, and she only makes them for Christmas, have some!! And save me one, too!

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By Melissa Buczek Kelly

www.mbknutrition.com