The holiday season is intrinsically linked with eating. You have Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas or a holiday dinner, and so many parties. That’s only naming a few of the places where you’ll be tempted to overindulge in delicious food. If you allow yourself to overeat a little too often, you’ll pick up the dreaded Festive 15.

How can you enjoy the many feasts of the festive season without setting back your New Year’s resolution before it even starts!

Counteract the Overeating

From the sheer amount of opportunities you’ll have, there will be times you’ll overeat. You may eat a few too many Christmas cookies or go for a third plate at Thanksgiving, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the world.

Instead, plan ahead and make healthy lifestyle changes before you get hit with the overeating temptations. The first step would be to start exercising more. If it’s been a little bit since you’ve last worked out, start simply by walking or jogging. These low-impact exercises are perfect for sore joints and beginners.

If you have access to a pool, swimming is a full-body workout that can’t be beat. As winter nears, however, there will be days when going outside isn’t an option. In these cases, try a YouTube fitness channel that you can follow in your living room!

If you want to curb overeating entirely, you can try a diet during the holiday season. Bear with us! We know the idea of dieting through Thanksgiving dinner sounds more like torture than a healthy choice, but it doesn’t have to be. One option for a diet during this time is the 80/20 diet.

Regular readers of Medicareful Living will be familiar with the 80/20 diet, but for newcomers, it’s more of a lifestyle than a diet. The general rule of thumb is to eat healthy 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent allows you to enjoy less healthy foods.

Be Strategic with Your Selections

If dieting isn’t your style, don’t sweat it. You can still be smarter with your holiday meals. Specifically, it means being strategic with the foods you pick for your meal. This means picking out healthier options to fill your plate, especially vegetables. Another smart option is to stick to skinless white meat instead of dark meat. White meat has roughly half the calories as dark meat with skin. If you still want to indulge in classics, you can try making them with healthier recipes, like mashed potatoes.

Portion control will also be essential to enjoying your dinner without overindulging. When it comes time to build your plate, try using smaller, healthier portions. You can still have some of your favorite classics but in smaller amounts. One trick to help you with this is to use a smaller plate. Researchers have discovered that using larger plates leads to eating more. The opposite is also true — smaller plate, less eating. If you have the choice, a red plate may also be effective in helping you eat less.

Along with portion size, it’s important to stop eating when you feel full. This may seem obvious, but when you’re faced with another plate of delicious food, it’s not so easy to say no. Instead, know when to stop, which is when you don’t feel hungry anymore.

Slow Down and Savor the Flavor

As delicious as the food may be, resist the urge to shovel it down as quickly as possible. One reason many of us overindulge is due to how fast we eat. Once we begin eating, it takes roughly 20 minutes for our brains to signal that we are full. The quicker we eat, the more calories we take in before we feel full. Studies have even shown that you’ll feel fuller longer.

One way to help you slow down is by drinking water between bites. By putting the utensil down and taking a sip of water, we immediately slow ourselves down. The added benefit of drinking water is that it’s filling without the calories of food. Our bodies often mistake thirst for hunger.

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Holiday meals have become synonymous with overeating. With the harvest and celebratory origins of the season, it makes sense that we cut loose a bit. That doesn’t mean that we need to completely ruin the good work we do the rest of the year. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of continued health.