Christmas and New Years are times for celebration, relaxation, friends, family and of course, food! Whether it is prawns, a roast or champagne, it’s really important – especially after the year we have had! – to be able enjoy ourselves over this period. However, the holidays don’t have to sabotage your healthy eating plans. Instead of waiting for the New Year to set a resolution for better health, start with these five tips to keep you on track and feeling good across the holidays:

Limit Your Alcohol

I know, I know… before you stop reading, let me tell you why. Alcohol – particularly mixers, beer and cider – contain a lot of calories. When we consume more calories than we need, we gain fat. Because these calories are in drink form, they’re much easier to overconsume. Furthermore, when we’re drinking, we’re more likely to crave high calorie foods like McDonalds, chips or fried food which can also contribute to weight gain.

Serve a Balanced Meal

A balanced meal is one that contains grains, protein and fruit or vegetables. A good rule of thumb to fill one-quarter of the plate with grains (think bread, pasta, rice, couscous – preferably wholegrain); one-quarter of the plate with protein (meat, chicken, fish, other seafood, eggs); and the remaining half with fruit and vegetables. A balanced meal ensures we’re getting important vitamins and minerals as well as helping us feel satisfied and fuller for longer.

Stick to Regular Portion Sizes

It’s really tempting when presented with a buffet of delicious foods for our eyes to be bigger than our stomach. It’s also easy to get caught up in socialising and not realise how much we’ve eaten. An easy tip to keep this under control is to serve yourself amounts that you’d usually have at home. For example, would you normally go back for three serves on a weeknight at home? Probably not. Eat how you usually would.

Bring a Healthy Option to Gatherings

In order to create a balanced meal, you need to have access to some fruit and/or vegetables. The easiest way to ensure this is to bring a salad, some roast veggies, veggies for dip/cheese platter or a fruit salad to your gatherings.

Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully means paying attention to our hunger and fullness cues to help us avoid mindless eating and overeating. Just because there is lots of food on offer, it doesn’t mean we need to eat it all or finish our plates. While you’re eating, chew slowly. Give yourself time to pay attention to what you’re eating (observing the colour, smell, taste and texture) and time for your body to start digesting food. As the meal continues, keep an eye on signs that you’re full: a tight belly, no hunger pains, and maybe the food doesn’t taste as flavourful anymore. This is your body’s way of telling you you’ve had enough. When we respect this cue, we’re less likely to overeat, feel sick and fatigued and have a much more enjoyable experience.