I hear a lot of jokes this time of year about getting out the “fat pants” or “putting the diet on hold until January.” But it doesn’t really have to be that way. You can (literally) have your cake and eat it too! Here are some tips for keeping yourself on track when you’re surrounded by pies and cookies and all the delicious yet not-so-healthy things. 1) Don’t think of food as punishment … OR reward. Food is not “bad” or “good.” Food is food. Period. If you think of it as anything else, you are setting yourself up for a wildly unhealthy relationship with what you eat. 2) If you want a slice of pie, have a slice of pie. This is a spinoff from point #1. If all you do is deny yourself foods you think are “bad,” pretty soon that slice becomes a half a pie, and then things can start to get a little dicey. 3) Stock your pantry and fridge with things you LIKE to eat and that have high nutritional value. Set yourself up to stay on track by making healthy choices as convenient as not-so-healthy choices. It should be as easy and quick to grab an apple and some cheese as it is to grab a bag (or two) of chips. 4) When you’re out, take charge of what you eat by not arriving at the party hungry. So often, people will “save up” before a party. They starve themselves all day long so they can have a food blowout that they later regret. Instead, enjoy without blowing the lock off! Have a snack before the party so when you get there, you don’t feel like you’re ready to gnaw off your own hand for sustenance. It’s tough to resist the siren song of bacon-wrapped mini weiners when you haven’t eaten anything all day. 5) Know what foods hit your buttons. If you crave salty/savory, it will be easy to stick to one small slice of pie or a couple of cookies. By the same token, if you crave sweets, maybe those bacon-wrapped mini weiners aren’t singing to you at all. 6) If you indulge or even overindulge, don’t beat yourself up about it. You are human. And again … FOOD IS FOOD. Eating a second slice of pie doesn’t mean you’ve blown it for good. And it doesn’t mean you’ll need to “earn” it by spending an extra two hours on the treadmill. It means you ate two slices of pie, and I hope you enjoyed every single bite. 7) Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. When we go out our water intake can get limited. Water may not be readily available, or there may be things you want more than you want water at that moment. 😉 But try to keep your hydration levels up. Dehydration can sometimes manifest itself as hunger. Plus, staying hydrated is better for you anyway!