Most people spend this time of year with family and friends, sharing food and drink and being merry. Holiday buffets will be filled with food galore, sugary treats, and alcohol, too. So how can you stick to healthy eating while still being merry this holiday season? These quick and easy tips will help you stay on track and still have great fun, both for you and for your attendees, at holiday get-togethers.

1. Don’t head off to a holiday party or event hungry—have a nourishing snack before you go. A generous handful of nuts and dried fruit, some vegetables dipped in hummus, or tortilla chips and guacamole will do. Each of these snacks will provide you with just enough fat, protein, and fiber to keep you satiated.

2. Keep in mind that fat and fiber help you digest sugar. You can usually find salads, vegetables, guacamole, dips, and cheese at a party. While the dips and cheese may not be the healthiest of all choices, they’ll provide your body with the dose of fat, that, along with the fiber provided by the greens and vegetables, will help balance the sugar of any dessert you choose to enjoy. 

3. Fill up on connection more than food. Food tends to be the center of every party—we come together to dine, and most often guests congregate around the kitchen to visit and munch. But while food fills you up, it doesn’t fulfill you. We get fulfillment from the joy we feel in life, and the joy comes from our connection with the people at the party. Make a commitment before going to the party to focus on these connections, to fill up on conversation and laughter more than the items on your plate. I think you’ll be amazed at how wonderful this makes you feel.

4. If you’re going to drink alcohol at the party be sure to have food before, and while, you drink. Select drinks that are low in sugar and be mindful of your alcohol tolerance threshold. If you’re going for a mixer, choose club soda over tonic water to cut sugar. If you need to sweeten the drink, add a splash of a fruit juice.  Please do not reach for diet tonic water—this is full of artificial sweeteners that are not good for you.

5. If you’re baking holiday treats to share at the party, feel free to substitute regular sugar with coconut palm sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup. Each of these all-natural sugar options are a healthy alternative to sugar and won’t compromise the flavor of your baked goods. 

6. Feel free to break with tradition if it means a healthier holiday for everyone. Look for ways to replace unhealthy ingredients in your recipes with healthier options, make fewer baked goods so you’re not snacking on them for weeks on end, and find ways to enjoy time with each other over a family game night.    

Many blessings to you this holiday and all year through!