It’s well-known that people typically gain weight during the holiday season. After all, there are five or six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, and it’s easily a time of over-indulging. But it’s not dinners at home that are the problem, it’s all the parties, work functions, family gatherings, etc. that take place this time of year. It can just be too much temptation.

You need to be careful though—according to research by the National Institutes of Health, the vast majority of people will never lose the weight they gain during the holiday season!

There are things you can do though, before you head to your holiday gatherings to help you from overindulging. Try these tips before socializing, and you just might get to New Years without gaining any holiday weight!

1) Indulge a little
We’ll start with one you’ll like—let yourself have a bit of the holiday treats you only get this time of year. The trick is to keep it in moderation though!

2) Drink lots of water 

Drinking water takes up space in your stomach, is calorie-free, good for your health, and helps you feel full more quickly.

3) Fill your plate with the healthy stuff first
When making your plate, fill most of the space with vegetables, fruits, or salad. This will help keep you from over-indulging on the other stuff. Besides being better for you, vegetables and fruit are absorbed more slowly by your body and this makes you feel fuller.

4) Never go a party hungry
It’s too hard to say no to a plate of delicious hors d’oeuvres or a table full of holiday desserts when you’re hungry. When possible, it’s much better to eat a small, healthy meal before heading to a party. Keep your pre-party meal small though; this allows you to have some indulgences later.

5) Have at least a snack of protein before you go
If it’s not possible to have a small nutritious meal before your party, at least try to have a snack of protein before you go. Grab a handful of nuts, some yogurt, a protein shake, or crackers with cheese. This will keep you from being too hungry at the party.

6) Grab the smaller plates
A lot of party set-ups will have large dinner-sized plates for the main food and smaller dessert plates. Grab a dessert plate for all your party food. Studies show that people eat less when using smaller plates.

7) Be smart about alcohol
It’s not realistic for most of us to completely cut alcohol out of our holiday celebrations, but you can be smart about it. Limit your intake and pass on the drinks with sugary mixes. Try instead to sip on dry red wine, or liquor with soda water. It’s also helpful to alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass of water.

8) Don’t skip meals on party days to “save” calories
It’s tempting to eat very little during the day of a party to “save” the calories for later. But that almost always backfires. It’s too hard to eat in moderation when you’re hungry and have been deprived of healthy fuel all day.

9) Try the three-bite rule
Research shows that the first few bites of any dish are the most satisfying. Some people find success with a three-bite rule—slowly eat and enjoy three bites of your favorite foods and then try to leave it at that.

10) Take your time
Eat slowly and before you go back for more, wait 20 to 30 minutes. It takes that long for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full. If you eat to the point of feeling full, then the feeling of being overfull will kick in soon. But when you wait, you often find that you don’t really want more.

11) Keep moving
At a party, stand instead of sitting, walk around, and mingle. Are there party games? Play those! If there’s dancing, hit the dance floor. Just keep moving!

12) Talk to people
Participating in conversations is a great distraction from food.

13) Say no to food pushers
Just because someone is encouraging you to eat some dish they made, don’t feel like you need to. Some people can be relentless, but don’t eat to please others!

14) Don’t linger near the food
You’re much more likely to keep munching if you’re standing by the food. Try to have your conversations in other areas.

15) Eat only the foods you really enjoy
If you take a bite of something on your plate that you don’t especially like, don’t feel obligated to finish it. Save your calories for the foods you love.

16) Take a quick walk after the party
If possible, take a quick 15 to 20-minute walk after the party. This helps jumpstart digestion and controls your blood sugar levels.

17) Play “dessert or drinks” 
It’s too much to give up drinks and desserts at parties, but some people can choose one. If you want to drink, skip the desserts. Or if you want to sample the desserts, try to have sparkling water with lime for your drinks.

18) Do a pre-party workout
Exercising before the party will make your body tend to crave healthier foods rather than the sugary desserts. Your metabolic rate will be higher too, which helps you burn the calories you do eat more quickly.

19) Make up for extra calories the next day
If you overeat at a party, eat less and choose healthier options the next day to even out your calorie intake. Indulging every once in a while isn’t harmful, but if the indulging continues for more than two days, the pounds start creeping on.

20) Have a good time!
Saving the best for last—have a good time! Enjoy your holiday gatherings. If you do overindulge, get back on track the next day and don’t beat yourself up.

‘Tis the season! 

Use these 20 tips to enjoy your holiday parties without paying too big of a price on the scales later.

Remember, your health is determined by what you do most of the time, not what you do once in a while. Just keep in mind that during the holidays, “once in a while” can turn into an entire month or more if you’re not careful!

All of us from Jesse James Fit and Outlaw FitCamp wish you happy and healthy holidays!