It’s the time of year when every office function, neighborhood party, and family get-together revolves around food. Healthy eating rules suddenly go out the window. Combine that with the stress and hectic schedule of the holiday season, and it’s easy to fall into a cycle of overindulging, regret, and unwanted growth around your midsection.

The holidays do NOT have to mean stress-fueled emotional eating, or gaining extra pounds. These seven strategies can help you to navigate the holiday season without succumbing to EVERY temptation. How about a happy, healthy holiday season!

1. Pay attention to breakfast.

What you eat in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Start off with a muffin and a venti skinny latte, and you automatically up your chances of a midday energy crash! Break your morning fast with a protein smoothie and you’ve got a head start on both resisting holiday munchies and fighting off that virus that’s going around.

2. Move more.

Getting exercise doesn’t just promote weight loss – it also balances the hormones that control your appetite and make you feel happy! One of the best ways to combat holiday stress and overeating is to work out regularly. That doesn’t mean hours at the gym! Research has shown that just 8 minutes a day is all it takes to burn more fat and feel less stressed. Go for a walk, dance around the living room with your kids, follow a yoga class on youtube, etc.

3. Make sleep a priority.

Getting seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night is vital to maintaining a healthy weight, a strong immune system, and a positive mentality during the holidays. Everything gets better with great sleep! Research proves that missing out on just one night’s rest causes a spike in hormones that make you feel hungry, cranky, and mentally foggy. Dream Serene™ is my go-to formula to safely fall and stay asleep… every single night!

4. Eat before you go.

I know this may sound silly but if you’re heading off to a party that’s sure to be serving lots of food, you’ll be a lot less likely to fall prey to the pastry-wrapped brie and a second glass of rosé if you have a sensible snack before the party. Instead of relying on your host to provide healthy options, eat a clean protein, some veggies, and healthy fats at home. You’ll be less likely to over-indulge once you get there.

5. Use the three-bite rule.

Take three polite bites, then put the fork down! That’s enough to taste your best friend’s caramel cheesecake, but not enough to derail your waistline. (And when I say “polite bites,” I mean the kind you’d eat on live TV, not standing in front of your fridge at midnight. LOL)

6. Don’t let the enemy into the house.

You probably have that one favorite that proves irresistible. (Mine’s ice cream. One spoonful becomes… more than one spoonful.) Make things easy on yourself and don’t let that food into the house this time of year… or glove compartment, desk, and wherever else you might stash it. I get it: That’s not always possible. If your daughter brings home cookies from the bake sale, or your neighbor brings over her famous fruitcake, give it away or put it away. Out of sight, out of mind!

7. Get some downtime.

Ever notice that you always seem to gain weight or get sick when life is at its most stressful? That’s not a coincidence! Stress raises the hormone cortisol, and elevated cortisol means you store more fat, have a hard time sleeping, and can’t fight infection effectively.) Make time during the holidays to relax and enjoy yourself, and don’t get cornered into stressful activities. If building a gingerbread house with your kids makes you crazy, find a new holiday tradition that doesn’t! It’s also okay to offer a loving-but-firm “no thank you” to holiday party invites too.

Here’s wishing you and yours the very healthiest, happiest holiday season!

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