Planning ahead and being mindful of what you eat can help you avoid unwanted pounds.

You may have had success in managing your weight or have met your health goals this year. Now that the holidays are coming up, you might find yourself wondering what you can do to maintain your weight.

Pre-party snack

One of our clients’ biggest struggles is arriving to a party hungry. When people are ravenous for food, they tend to head straight for the chip bowl or some heavy calories at the buffet.

This year, try eating a light snack before you head off to your next holiday party. Have snacks like cottage cheese and fruit, veggies and hummus or a small bowl of oatmeal and nuts to fill you up and help you have a better mindset when looking at the food table.

Veggie-focused

Try a “veggie-focused” plate (even when it isn’t the holiday season). For a simple method, fill up half your plate with veggies. Then fill a quarter of the plate with lean protein and another quarter with whole grains. Add a little bit of healthy fat, such as a handful of nuts or an avocado, to the meal. Veggies will provide you with nutrients your body needs with fewer calories than other snacks. Also, the protein and fat, as well as the fiber from the veggies, will help you feel satisfied and full.

Portion control

Be mindful of the food you are eating. Instead of constantly grazing at various tables, try to get a plate. Seeing what you’re putting on your plate can help you be more aware of what you are eating. Also, research shows that if you use a smaller plate, you generally eat less.

Alcohol and other drinks count

During the holidays, we want to raise a glass. The key is to be aware of how much you are drinking. The calories in alcoholic and sugary drinks can quickly add up. For example, one cup of eggnog has 223 calories. A 5-ounce glass of cabernet sauvignon has 120 calories. A 12-ounce beer has about 146 calories. Consider making a plan ahead of your evening, such as having only one or two alcoholic drinks, and sticking to it.

Enjoy your favorites

It is the holiday season – full of joy and delicious food. Don’t deprive yourself. Instead, try for smaller portions of your favorite dessert. When you are satisfied, put your fork down and go play a game with your cousins or go strike up a conversation with a friend about their favorite book. This will help you to avoid overeating, and it gives you the freedom to enjoy food without feeling guilty.

Stay on track with your workouts

Consistency is key when maintaining an exercise routine over the holidays. With travel, cooking and spending time with loved ones filling up our schedules, it’s easy to take a few days (or weeks) off from the gym. Staying active throughout the holiday season will help you burn excess calories, drop water weight and adhere to your exercise routine once the new year begins.

Make it a family tradition

While most of us love to eat, watch football and take naps during the holidays, incorporating exercise can be a fun new tradition in which your family takes part. Go for walks, find a local 5K or just play a game of pickup football in the yard or local park. These are all great ways to stay active and promote an active lifestyle among your loved ones as well.

Holiday workout tips and tricks

Schedules can be our worst enemy during the holidays, so it’s important to fit our workouts in when we can. Most often, workouts that are less time-consuming are best. Performing multi-joint exercises such as squats, pushups and lunges allows your body to burn more energy in a smaller amount of time. Also, performing cardiovascular training, such as walking or jogging, after resistance training will allow you to burn even more calories. Finally, making time for a short walk after a big meal will help combat post-meal fatigue, assist with digestion and help burn those excess calories.

Keri Carpenter, MPH, RDN, CHES, is a health educator with the Texas A&M Healthy South Texas Diabetes Education Program.

Joshua Laudig, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, is the fitness coordinator with Texas A&M Healthy South Texas.