By Maggie Dion, FDN-P and HHC

The end of fall is quickly approaching and so begins a season of festivities and celebrations with friends, family, and everyone in between.

For many, the holiday season translates to numerous gatherings filled with opportunities to overindulge. It’s almost inevitable that you won’t be sticking to your typical eating routine during the holidays. Instead of panicking, or forfeiting to the idea that your diet starts in January, try to plan ahead for success.

Here are 8 tips to help you have a guilt-free holiday season:

1. Start the day off right

When it comes to health, each day is not all or nothing. Just because you have a family party in the afternoon doesn’t give you a free pass to ditch your healthy diet and lifestyle practices all day.

Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast will make your body think you are in a famine and it will quickly turn your Thanksgiving feast into fat. Try something with greens and veggies such as an omelet, smoothie or green juice.

Next, jump start your metabolism by moving! Perhaps you can go to the gym, take a class, go for a walk with your family, or organize a friendly game of football.

2. Prepare a healthy version of your holiday favorites

Avoid feeling deprived or compromising on food quality by offering to bring a healthy version of your favorite dishes. For example, rather than having to pass on dessert, find a delicious treat that doesn’t have questionable ingredients. Check out Pinterest for healthy holiday food inspiration.

3. Drink, but responsibly

While alcohol doesn’t fall into the healthy beverage category, let’s talk about some healthier options that won’t leave you feeling deprived or hungover. You will want to look for beverages that are low in sugar and additives. For example:

  1. Organic wine that doesn’t have added sugar, dyes, sulfates, chemicals or toxins. I recommend Dry Wine Farms.
  2. Gluten-free vodka with seltzer and a squeeze of lemon, lime or grapefruit juice.

4. Converse away from the food table

Be aware of snack grazing to avoid unnecessary calories. A pro tip is to have conversations away from the food table and bowls spread throughout the party. If you have a conservation near the snacks you will inevitably find yourself mindlessly picking and munching. Your best bet is to step away and avoid the temptation. If you do want a snack, consciously fill up your appetizer plate and move away from the food table.

5. Eat consciously and selectively

When scanning the appetizers, meal and dessert ask yourself “Is it worth it?” Before answering, think about a few things:

  1. Is this a special occasion food or can I eat this any day? If it is something simple like a cheese plate or chips and dip perhaps you are better off skipping.
  2. Is this food going to promote health or sabotage my efforts?
  3. Am I even hungry or just eating because it’s in front of me?

6. Drink as little as possible while eating

Don’t drink more than 4 ounces of fluid while eating. Consuming liquids while eating dilutes your stomach acid making it less potent. That means your body is going to struggle to breakdown your food and absorb the nutrients. This can lead to gas, bloating, acid reflux, and just overall discomfort. It is best to pause drinking about 30 minutes prior to a meal. You can plan to resume hydrating about 30 minutes after your meal.

7. Prepare for damage control

Despite your best efforts, sometimes we eat things outside of our typical diet that lead to some uncomfortable digestion symptoms. Prepare ahead of time by doing any of the following:

  • Support digestion with digestive enzymes
  • Rub DigestZen essential oil blend on your stomach
  • Soothe inflammation and pain with bone broth
  • Soothe an upset stomach with Ginger Tea
  • Eliminate belly bloat with 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in 4 ounces of water
  • Neutralize acidic poison and fermenting food with a pinch of baking soda in water

8. Enjoy!

At the end of the day, don’t let sticking to a strict meal plan take away from the joy of the holidays. Leave the stress and guilt at the door so you can truly enjoy the company of your loved ones and some seasonal treat. You can get back on track the next day. Life is about balance after all!