Parties. Time-honored traditions. Seasonal treats. Lists, shopping, and packed calendars.

The holidays are stuffed to the brim with festivities, with every occasion being another opportunity to make special memories. On the flip side, each occasion is also another reason to put your health on the back burner, something that can take years to make up for, if at all.

For example, adults gain one pound, on average, during the holidays. Which may not seem like much, but it adds up over time because most people never lose that extra pound, even after the holidays are over. Which leads to some head scratchers 10 years down the road when you can’t figure out where those extra 10 pounds came from when you haven’t done anything differently.

Rather than being the grinch that spoils all your fun, keeping healthy habits during the holidays can actually make your holiday season better. Here are some useful tips to help you stay healthy during the holidays.

1. Make wellness a priority

Decide now that you’re going to make an effort this holiday season to make healthy choices, because it won’t be so easy when someone offers you second helpings of Christmas fruitcake. Having some goals in place before the craziness starts will save you some willpower later on.

2. Don’t expect perfection

Prioritizing your health doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing pursuit, though. Do what you can to stick to your health goals, but if you indulge every now and then, don’t sweat it. This time of year is meant to be enjoyed, and if you find that you’re obsessing over staying healthy a little too much, maybe make an exception for today and try again tomorrow.

3. Choose your splurges

For many of us, the best part of the holidays is getting to enjoy treats we’ve been missing since January. Alongside your favorite delectable indulgences will also be lots of treats you don’t care that much about. So pick your splurges wisely. Pass on the treats that aren’t really worth it so you can fully enjoy the treasures that are.

4. Find healthy alternatives to your favorite dishes

Here’s a secret: if you bring a vegetable side dish to a party, people are far more likely to be grateful than to blame you for ruining their fun with something healthy. We all need a little extra help staying healthy around this time of year, and healthy alternatives to popular dishes abound.

5. Eat something healthy before you go out to eat

Make it easier on yourself to get more of the foods you need and less of those you don’t by eating something healthy before you go out. This way you’ll at least have eaten something good for you that day, and you won’t be quite as hungry when your “official” meal is placed before you—which, as we all know, often leads to poor food choices.

Tip: Keep a few sachets of Balance in your purse or pocket so you can whip one out to mix up in a glass of water before you eat. Balance is another good way to help you keep your appetite and cravings in check when you’re surrounded by carb-heavy food options.

6. Drink with moderation

Whether your holiday drink of choice is hot chocolate with extra marshmallows or wassail with extra alcohol, make it an occasional treat rather than a regular fixture on your personal holiday menu. For a fun twist on popular holiday beverages, try one of these delicious, low-carb holiday drinks featuring Unicity products!

7. Stay physically active

Going to the gym may feel like the last thing you want to do when there are cheesy holiday movies to be watched, but that exercise is the gift your body actually wants for Christmas. And in some cases, you can get your exercise while enjoying a fun holiday activity, like dancing. Here are eight other workouts perfect for winter.

8. Take a short walk after eating

If you’re having trouble finding time to exercise regularly, a five-minute walk (or even a quick kitchen clean-up) after dinner can actually do you a lot of good. Moving after eating helps with digestion and is an easy way to add more activity to even the busiest of days.

9. Stick to your regular sleep schedule as much as possible

Before you say, “I’ll sleep after New Year’s Eve,” hear us out. With our packed schedules keeping us busier than normal, sleep is essential to keeping us energized and alert enough to enjoy all those activities. Guard your sleep time like you guard your family traditions—they both contribute to a happier, more memorable holiday season.

10. Take time to relax, even if you have to schedule it

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. With concerts and recitals and parties seeming to take place every other night, not to mention all the extra shopping, it’s easy to miss out on what makes this time of year magical. So make sure you’re taking time to kick back and relax every once in a while too, whether that means taking a bubble bath, going to bed early, or watching an old favorite Christmas movie with your kids.

11. Don’t commit to more than you can handle

The holidays can quickly become overwhelming if you’re not careful. It’s important to know what your limits are so you can avoid overscheduling yourself. This may mean turning down a couple party invites so you can enjoy a night off at home every now and then, away from the hustle and bustle. Maybe you’ll need to cut out neighbor gifts this year, or focus on just a few holiday traditions rather than trying to do it all. Simplify where you can so you can enjoy the holidays to the fullest.

12. Focus on what matters most

However you celebrate the holidays, focus on what’s most important: quality time with those you care about. Don’t expect everything to be perfect because it won’t be, even if you’re a master planner and multitasker. Do what you can to stay healthy through the holiday season so you can be at your best to enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones.

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