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    While the holidays are a time for family, friends, and loved ones, many feel
    the stress of buying gifts, the crowds while shopping, traveling, cranky kids, etc. We also get invited to office parties, family and/or friends for gatherings.
    Due to all the stresses,when we see food all around us, we go for it! Have you ever noticed that our emotions play a big part in our food choices??  This is something to deeply think about especially during holiday time.  While we might have goals for ourselves, the majority of people tend to go off track during the holidays, more than any other time during the year!

    Here are my top 5 tips to keep you on track:

    1.  Drink water – Water is the essence of life.  When really busy, the last thing we do is  think to drink water or herbal teas. We are dehydrated before the party begins and even more so after just 1 alcoholic beverage!  If you are already drinking 6-8 cups or more, just remind yourself by putting reminders in your calendar to start in the morning and continue throughout the day.  If you drink less than 6 cups per day, it’s time to get on the bandwagon and give your body what it needs daily.

    In addition to drinking 6-8 cups of water, for every alcoholic beverage, you must drink an additional cup of water.   Alcohol dehydrates the body even more, so it is important to rehydrate soon after each beverage.  Limit alcohol at each gathering to no more than 3 – 6 oz beverages.  Bear in mind, each beverage is on average 100-300 calories per drink!  So, if you have 3 drinks, that can be about half your calories for the day and you haven’t started eating yet!

     It is important to note that when the body is dehydrated, you can develop intense food cravings!  Also, while you think you are hungry, your body is actually crying  out for water!  So, don’t you think it is wise to drink water as much as possible during the day and before you go to gathering or parties? By drinking enough water you can reduce or eliminate some of the intense cravings and make better food choices during the holidays and beyond.

    2.   What to eat. Try to eat a variety of vegetables and a small amount of  protein before heading out to your event. Make sure you had enough to feel full and satisfied and to hold you for at least 2-3 hours before going out. Some suggestions are: buy or make a small crudite platter or grilled vegetables to have on hand for you and your family.  Avoid heavy dips or dressings. Boil up a few eggs or make a veggie omelette or make a veggie tuna or salmon salad with a tossed salad or some of the raw or grilled vegetables. Eating a high fiber snack if still hungry is a good options.  This could be simple, a handful of raw almonds or pumpkin seeds.  Or a piece of fruit, such as an apple.

    If you are bringing a dish or dessert to a family gathering or friend’s house, make a heart healthy dish that you can fill up on, especially if no other healthy choices are there.  It is best to bring a dish that has fiber in it, such as sweet potatoes vs white potatoes. Avoid white sugar, and choose natural, unprocessed sweeteners such as dates, unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana. Adding cinnamon to the fruit, will bring out the sweetness even more.  If you prefer sugar, try coconut sugar or unrefined cane sugar. The less sugar you use the better for your body.  

    3.   Eat slowly and mindfully. When we are at holiday parties, we tend to socialize and eat mindlessly.  Meaning, we eat without thinking and eat very fast. Drink a cup of water first, then think before eating many hor d’oeuvres, fried foods and filling up before the main meal.  Also, remember to chew eat bite well. This not only will help you slow down, it will also help you digest your meal better. At dessert time, choose 1 or 2 desserts and either share with someone else, or Just have a few bites or half of each.  Add fruit to your dessert plate. You and your body will be glad you did!

    4.  Make time to exercise at the gym or home from 30 to 60 minutes in the morning or early afternoon.  This way you can de-stress your body and burn  some calories.  This does not mean that you can go all out at your gathering and eat everything in sight.  It means to get your body warmed up and feeling good. Remember, have at least 8 ounces of water when working out.

    5.  While you may be busy with your holiday shopping, and your calendar of social events are filling up quickly, remember to reflect upon what you want this holiday season.

    Are you working toward a particular health goal?

    Have you taken some time to reflect on what feels good in your body and  mind?

    Are you clear on a personal intention this holiday season?

    Taking a few minutes before a holiday party and ask yourself, what you are intending or plan to focus on.  This will remind you to secure yourself with your goals and intentions. Keeping in line with these goals and intentions, will help you stay on track not only for the holidays, but into the future, as well.