The holidays are just around the corner and the excitement of family, friends and parties can derail even the most discipline individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health, eating during the holidays can add up to an extra 1-2 pounds every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. Here are a few tips to help prevent weight gain and stay happy and healthy during this time of year.

Stay healthy and happy this time of year!

Stay healthy and happy this time of year!

1. Don’t skip any meals. Some folks feel as though they can skip a meal in order to “save” calories before an evening holiday party but most people end up famished and then overindulge on the high calorie, high fat party foods.

2. Be aware of the liquid calories. Eggnog, punch, beer, wine and other festive drinks are very high in calories. Try starting out with sparkling water with a twist of lemon instead of an alcoholic beverage or add the sparkling water to a glass of wine and add a splash of cranberry juice for a wine spritzer.

3. Be selective at the buffet. Buffets during the holidays are quite beautiful and can be tempting, so choose a small plate and fill with fresh fruits and veggies first before moving on to the less healthful options.

4. Don’t hang out by the food. At the party, after filling your plate move away from the spread of enticing food and join in conversation with other party guests.

5. Eat until you are 80% or comfortably full. Slow down and savor your favorite holiday treats. Overeating can cause stomach upset and ruin the joyful atmosphere.

6. Control your temptations. You will not be able to control all situations, so focus on the ones you can. For example do not keep candies and junk food in your work space, office, or at home. Save the treats for special events like the office party.

7. Bring your own dish. Many parties encourage guests to bring a dish, so take advantage of the situation and bring a delicious good-for-you option, such as hummus and raw veggies.

8. Move your body. Even though the holidays are a busy time, do not forget to exercise. Walking 30 minutes a day will do wonders to keep your body in shape. The walk can be divided into two- 15 minute power walks.

9. Get plenty of sleep. Our bodies need at least 7-9 hours of sleep at night. Less sleep can trigger stress hormones that contribute to weight gain.

10. Sign up for a holiday fitness event. Check local event listings to find running, walking, or cycling races in your city. Find a fun run in your neighborhood like a “Turkey Trot” around Thanksgiving or a “Jingle Bell Run” close to Christmas that can include the whole family. It’s a great way to keep the entire gang fit.