Eating healthy and well during the year can be difficult enough without adding in the hectic chaos of the holidays. From family dinners to Christmas parties, to the crazy schedule of cramming in everything before the holidays hit, eating healthy and regularly working out can be next to impossible, especially with all the holiday goodies. Here are some simple ways to maintain those good eating habits during the holidays.

Plan Your Meals

Half of making sure that you eat healthily is to plan your meals ahead. During the holidays, this is even more important. You don’t have to skip the party or necessarily bring your own food, but make sure you use the day to balance out the calorie intake. If you plan to indulge a little at the party, use the rest of your means to eat healthy, high protein, low-calorie foods. You can still get your daily nutrients if you’re careful. If you really think that you might be eating more calories than usual, then plan some extra calorie burning exercise as well.

Make Some Substitutions

Much of the holiday food is filled with creams, sugars, and fats that make them some of the best comfort foods around, but there are also a number of ways to keep the goodness of the comfort foods while eating a little healthier. In the mashed potatoes that we love so much, you can use skim milk rather than whole. Whole wheat rolls are much better nutrition wise than white rolls. If you use chicken broth or stock in anything or any other canned products, reduce your overall sodium by choosing low-sodium items. As much as we love the green bean casserole, switching to plain steamed green beans is much healthier.

Master the Art of Sampling

Overeating is really easy to do during the holidays since all the food looks and smells amazing. Instead of eating full servings of everything, take small bite-size samples of the things you really want. The holidays can be carb-rich, so take some care to balance your plate with half fruits and veggies and your necessary protein. Eat slowly and listen to your body on how full you are. Once you get the signal, stop eating.

Limit the Liquid Calories

Beverages are a quick way to hit your daily calories without getting the nutritional content that your body needs. All the best holiday drinks are calorie rich. Though we love them, try to limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage or one seasonal beverage a day. If you drink them, make sure to balance the caffeine or alcohol with your necessary water intake.

The holidays come with lots of good food and drink, and if you’re trying to maintain healthy eating habits, it can be difficult, but with careful planning and smart choices, you can have what you want and still be healthy about it.

This article is brought to you by the YMCA. The YMCA is not just a gym; it is a worldwide charitable fellowship united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of helping people grow in spirit, mind and body.

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