It's a season of indulgence, but that doesn't mean your healthy habits go out the window. Follow these easy tips to maintain a balanced diet while still enjoying an occasional splurge.
1. Stock up on healthy options
This holiday season, be even more conscious of your healthy eating at home so that when you are out you don't have to feel any guilt about indulging! Even if you have two or three parties in one week, you still will be at home for four to five nights that week. The best way to avoid holiday weight gain is to make sure your home is stocked full of healthy options and free of treats. —Cristin Dillon Jones, registered dietician (R.D).
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2. Skip extra treats
During the holiday season it's a good idea to avoid that nightly glass of wine and that treat you have after dinner. Those two small things can add up to a few hundred extra calories that combined with your event eating could lead to extra pounds by January. Since you'll have plenty of other opportunities to drink and eat sweets, avoiding them at home should not be too difficult and it'll make for an enjoyable "extra" at your evening events!
3. Cook once, eat all week
It's not just about avoiding certain foods, it's all about including the easiest, healthiest foods you can. Try to make a healthy meal on the weekend that you can reheat and serve during the week. When you come home from a long day at work and it's already dark out, there isn't much motivation to start cooking. Instead of grazing your cupboards or ordering take-out, rely on the work you already did on the weekend. Soups and stews as well as pasta bakes and chili make great healthy reheatable meals.
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4. Up your veggie intake
Try to eat salad for dinner 1 to 2 times a week. Salad, or any vegetable for that matter, is not often found on the menu at holiday events so plan to eat salad for dinner on a night that you are home to get in a lower calorie meal and to increase your intake of vegetables. On the weekend you can cut up the carrots, onions, peppers, cucumbers, and wash the lettuce so that midweek you just have to throw them all together and enjoy. Keep some simple protein choices around like beans, precooked chicken and tuna fish to make your salad filling.
5. Make your home festive
Decorate! If you are surrounded by the season you won't feel the need to indulge in food in order to get in the holiday spirit. Buy pine scented candles and use the tree and window lights instead of the regular lights during the holidays. The sights and smells of the season instantly improve your mood and you won't need treats to cheer you up. It's also fun to eat off of holiday plates if you have them, making ordinary meals feel festive!
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6. Eat balanced meals
During these next few months keep your shopping list to the basic food groups: healthy fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and beans, low fat dairy and whole grains. Take a break from your usual in-home treats so that you can save some calories for party time. Don't skip any meals, even if you ate big the day before. Be sure to still eat three balanced meals a day and make them as healthy as you can!
7. Stay on your workout schedule
Keep yourself busy both in and out of the kitchen! If you have the time, partake in a fun family activity: Cook a deliciously healthy dinner together and to pass the time between holiday meals and shopping, don't forget last week's tip about keeping up with your calorie-burning exercise routine—you can sweat out any holiday stress!
This article originally appeared on Self.com.