The countdown is on to the holiday season – a time when it is common to take an unintentional detour from your nutrition and health goals. Getting off track with your health goals is not hard to do this time of year. The combination of social gatherings, holiday stressors, lack of sleep, and changes in your daily routine can make it easy to let your healthy eating habits slide. [perfectpullquote align=”right”]…an extra 500 calories per day can result in a one to two pound weight gain per week. [/perfectpullquote] While an extra bite or two here and there of your favorite holiday dish or dessert may not seem like much, the calories can add up quickly. Most people don’t realize an extra 500 calories per day can result in a one to two pound weight gain per week. Perhaps that explains why several studies found the average person gains about one to two pounds per holiday season. After several years those pounds can start to really add up. Tips for a Healthier Holiday Avoidance of your favorite holiday foods is the not the answer to a healthier holiday either. The best solution is moderation. One-way to help moderate your holiday food intake is to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is being aware of what you eat and not just consuming foods because they are in front of you. Here are some tips for a mindful approach this holiday season: Maintain your normal meal and snack schedule. Try not to go more than three to four hours while awake without eating. Maintaining a schedule will help keep hunger under control and prevent you from making impulsive food choices. Have a plan for your meals and snacks at least 24 hours in advance. A plan will help you to maintain a schedule. You may need to pack meals or snacks to take with you. If attending a lunch or dinner party try to find out in advance what will be served. Avoid sitting or socializing with the food in eyesight. With the food in eyesight you will be more likely to eat larger portions and when you are not hungry. Before you fill up your plate survey all of the food available. Survey the food to help make a plan for a balanced plate. For optimal balance fill up at least one half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Limit starchy foods (breads, rice, pasta) to one-fourth of your plate. Savor the flavor of each bite you take. Often people eat quickly and mindlessly not chewing food properly. Eating fast does not allow adequate time for the food to reach your stomach and send a signal of fullness, which can lead to overeating. Keep a food diary. Using a phone application or pen and paper, record everything you eat and drink throughout the day. Keeping a food diary is helpful for awareness and better understanding of your dietary habits. Review the diary daily to assess the changes you will need to make in upcoming days.