The holiday season can be very challenging time to stay on a healthy eating plan. There are trigger foods just about everywhere you look. At home and at work, Christmas cookies and treats abound.

There is a temptation to make exceptions around the holidays. This mindset could be a saboteur. Think of all the special occasions we celebrate throughout the year. There is Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine, Easter, weekends with friends and family, fund raisers, office parties, birthdays, weddings to name a few. The list is long and if you make exceptions on your healthy eating plan each time, it would be very hard to maintain consistency needed to lose weight and keep it off.

See the holidays and the special occasions as nothing but opportunity to socialize with friends. Engage in fun activities such as games, trivia and strive to learn something interesting about the people you celebrate with.

Before you go to a holiday celebration event this year, try the following:

  • Don’t go hungry: Eat a healthy snack or a salad before you go.
  • Plan what you are going to eat and how much- if possible, review the menu prior to dining out.
  • Skip the hors d’oeuvres or have veggie sticks
  • Enjoy a healthy salad
  • Control your portion and consider taking the leftovers home. Consider ordering an appetizer as an entrée.
  • Eat mindfully. Eat slowly, chew your food completely and savor every bite. Stop eating once you feel satisfied, not stuffed
  • Skip dessert
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid buffets if you can. If you must go to a buffet, survey all the foods available before filling your plate. Fill half of your plate with healthier options.
  • Stay active: Find the time to exercise and maintain an active routine.
  • Selfcare. The holidays can be rather stressful for a lot of people. Take time to care for yourself. Don’t forget to rest and rejuvenate yourself.

Ife Ojugbeli, MD, MBA.