The most wonderful time of the year also happens to be the most gluttonous; after all those cranberry cocktails at Thanksgiving and millions of yummy holiday cookies, you’ll be ready to gift yourself a gym membership come January. While you’re sure to give in to the temptation of home cooking and (*spiked*) egg nog, it’s worth taking the “slow and steady wins the race” approach to food and alcohol consumption during this time of year. In fact, Dr. Ian Tong, chief medical officer at Doctor on Demand, points out that eating shouldn’t be a race at all! Read on for four ways to curb your indulgence this holiday season.

1. It’s not a race. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but it’s also about food, and many families treat holiday meals like an eating contest. Additionally, most of the foods you’ll be consuming during the holidays aren’t the healthiest. To combat this situation, Dr. Tong recommends taking your time, and rather than piling all of your food on one plate, start with just one portion and only eat more if you’re hungry.

2. Stop before you’re full. “Many people eat until they are full, but disciplined eaters limit their food intake,” Dr. Tong says. “Try to stop eating or at least take a break when you are no longer hungry.” Allow your brain to tell your body to stop, not the other way around.

3. Think small. “I raised my kids to ‘think big,’ but not at the dinner table,” Dr. Tong says. “Meal time is better suited to… smaller portions on smaller plates.” It might sound like a subtle change, but Dr. Tong explains that using smaller plates will actually help you avoid that urge to fill up. “You can always go back for another portion,” he says, “so start small.”

4. Eat, drink, and be safe. In addition to all that food, alcohol presents its own set of temptations during the holiday season. Dr. Tong encourages us to take the same moderate approach to drinking as we do to eating; not only is drinking less healthier, but it’s safer too. “If you drink, don’t drive,” he says. “Leave the driving to a driving service if you can.”

While the holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate and relax alongside friends and family, it’s worth finishing the year on a high note in terms of your health. Trust us — your January self will thank you for it!

How do you stay healthy during the holidays? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)