With the holiday season just around the corner, it will soon be time to celebrate with family, friends… and food. But this most wonderful time of year can also be challenging for maintaining a healthy diet. We’ll share a few simple eating tips for enjoying any holiday feast without depriving yourself, overindulging or surviving on salads alone.

Start with healthy snacks
If you are planning to attend (or host) a holiday party, make time to eat a healthy snack first. Beginning the festivities with an empty stomach sets the stage for overindulgence later. Reach for turkey and cheese on whole-wheat crackers, apple slices with almond butter or a cup of Greek yogurt and a banana. Choosing snacks with both protein and complex carbohydrates helps to stabilize blood sugar.

Eat slowly
Because it takes 10-20 minutes for the brain to realize you are full, take your time while eating. Begin with a small plate of food and drink plenty of water. Chat with holiday party guests and then check your appetite. You may no longer be hungry or you may be satisfied with a small helping of seconds.

Look out for liquid calories
When toasting the holidays, try to cut back on sugary drinks, juices, soda and alcohol. Just one glass of beer or eggnog can have 150-225 calories. Drinking alcohol also lowers inhibitions, making it easier to forget about healthy eating.

Be festive and fit
Many holiday gatherings are centered around a table or buffet packed with tasty and tempting treats. To keep the party moving, invite your family to take a walk after a meal, suggest a friendly game of football before dinner or offer to help your host wash dishes or clean up. They will appreciate the help, and it’s a great way to burn off holiday calories!

Enjoy the season
This season, try to make good choices about food, but give yourself permission to sample your favorites. The holidays can be stressful enough without worrying about every bite! Enjoy a small slice of grandma’s pumpkin pie or other special dishes made only at this time of year.

Keep these healthy eating guidelines in mind at your next holiday celebration, but remain focused on family, friends and the spirit of the season. When the holidays are over, you’ll be left with many joyful memories—instead of extra pounds.