With the leftovers gone and the fall décor packed away, we’re now ready to start the Christmas celebrations. Enter the Advent calendars, the festive sweaters, and the holiday party.

Except you’ve decided to approach this year differently, right? You don’t want to celebrate with food for the next month. You want to enjoy yourself, participate in activities, and not feel like you have to start all over again on January 1st. And I’m with you!

But this can be hard. It can be hard when Grandma sends a tin of her butter cookies. Or when the kids each have a holiday party at school. Add in the work party with the wine and buffet and you can quickly be in a pickle.

Don’t forget – you don’t have to eat any of it. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you aren’t doing it. I have a few quick tips for avoiding overeating and splurging too much at these holiday parties. These are scientifically tested – by me – and are proven to allow you to have fun and hit your goals.

Eat before you go.

Sometimes the best way to stick to eating healthy foods is to prepare it yourself. Actually, this is true almost all of the time. Heading to a buffet dinner? Eat something at home first. Fill yourself up enough that you can grab something small – like a salad or vegetables from the platter – but not need to eat the whole meal. This may also be a good opportunity to have a protein or meal replacement shake on the way to the party or while you’re getting ready.

Be the designated driver.

I like beer. I like wine. But I’d much rather eat my calories. So when we go to a holiday party, I’m the designated driver. It gives me an easy explanation whenever someone offers me a drink. Ever notice how no one ever pressures the DD to drink but if you just say “No thanks!” they keep pushing you? Even if you aren’t the DD, you can say you are.

Skip the sauces and dressings.

If you’re eating at a holiday party, do yourself a favor and skip the sauces, gravy, syrup, or salad dressing. These are loaded with extra calories that you don’t need when eating already rich and tasty food. If you do opt for a salad, get the dressing on the side so you can use it sparingly. Remember, you can always add more dressing later, you can’t take any away.

Share dessert.

It’s nearly impossible for me to skip dessert entirely. I don’t have a sweet tooth, per se, but I always want to try what is there. This is where having kids is a huge blessing. I let them get a dessert, and then I take a bite of each one. Then I get a taste of something without having to eat the whole thing. But, no matter how much is left on their plate – don’t finish it!

Sit down and eat.

Here’s a sure fire way not to overeat: only eat from a plate while sitting at the table. Avoid grazing. Avoid having “just one more” as you walk past the table. Get a plate, fill it intentionally, and then sit down and eat. Then you can walk around, enjoy the party, and socialize. This also avoids the awkward moments of trying to shake hands with a glass, a plate, and food in your mouth.

This season, I want you to enjoy yourself at that holiday party. Both in the moments of celebrating with friends and family and when you get home. I want you to be confident in your decisions, love yourself through all of it, and come out the other side strong and happy.

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