Beautiful girl with Christmas hat measuring her waistNothing says holiday season better than party platters and decadent dishes. Food is everywhere this time of year but weight gain does not have to be inevitable. Use these tips to stay trim throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Exercise Everyday – and all day, too

Yes, we are busier during the holiday season but that doesn’t mean we get an exercise pass. In fact, the busier you are the more you need to exercise. Busyness can often lead to stress, insomnia and inattention – all things that usually add up to overeating and extra pounds. If you can’t find time to do 30 minutes all at once break your exercise into two or three sessions during the day. Also, move all day. Calories don’t come off only if you have your sneakers on in the gym. They burn when you are walking to your car, climbing the stairs or jumping rope for three minutes in the morning.

Choose Carefully

There are so many temptations around the holidays. Don’t deprive yourself. Instead, go for smaller portions of the things you really enjoy. Scan the buffet so you know what is there before you choose anything. When making your plate be sure that at least three-quarters of it is filled with sensible foods – ideally fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Use the final third for your treat foods. Worried there are too many treats to choose from? Remind yourself that tomorrow is another day so you don’t have to eat all the treats at once.

Avoid Skipping Meals

Your plan was to save calories by skipping lunch or breakfast so you could pile your plate high at the dinner party. You probably found that the plan backfired because you were so hungry you took in twice as many calories than you usually do. Try this instead. Eat as you normally do before the big event. You may even want to have a light snack that includes some protein before you go. When you get there choose carefully.

Eat Mindfully

Have you ever finished a plate of something and then thought, that really wasn’t very good? If so, you probably weren’t eating mindfully. Avoid holiday weight gain by paying attention to the experience of eating. You may just find that you eat less and feel more satisfied.

Don’t Drink your Calories

Alcoholic beverages are very high in calories. Cut the calorie count by adding sparkling water to wine and or limiting cocktails. Never leave home without water. Be sure to sip some between cocktails if you plan to have more than one.

Get an Accountability Buddy

Make it a game by getting a buddy that will keep you on track. Here’s how: both of you should weigh in at the start of the holiday season. Make a goal to weigh the same or less on January 2nd. Check in with each other regularly for encouragement and support. Decide how you will celebrate when the scale looks the same at the end of the holiday challenge.

Don’t give yourself the unwanted gift of holiday weight gain. With a little planning and creativity you can enjoy all the fun and some of the food with none of the extra pounds.