Let the calorie countdown begin. Thanksgiving officially kicks-off the season of gatherings built around decadent food and sweet drinks.

Let your memories of time spent with family and friends be the only lasting part of the holidays due to these tips from Registered Dietitian Reed Vawter and Health Education Consultant Lauren Lewis of UNM’s Employee Health Promotion (EHP) Office.

Holiday Nutrition Tips

Make water your primary drink: The holidays are full of high-calorie drinks, from alcohol to egg nog. Save those items for your celebration meals and focus on water for the rest of the holidays. You’ll feel more energized and avoid the extra calories.

Stick to your regular meals: We’re often tempted to skip meals leading up to a big dinner or social gathering. But that can leave your will-power lacking. Stick with your regular meals and snacks before a social event and you’ll make smarter choices.

Give yourself a little indulgence: Don’t try to swear off the treats cold-turkey, that can leave you craving them more. Plan to have some of your favorites, but do so in moderation. You’ll be happy and have an easier times sticking to your healthy eating goals.

Holiday Fitness Tips

Sign up for a holiday community walk or run before the festivities and big meals: There are always plenty of holiday-themed races around Albuquerque to participate in—just search online for Albuquerque races.

Get active after the big meals: Most of us would rather take a nap in front of the TV, but try going for a walk instead or find an active game to play with family and friends like tossing a Frisbee or touch football. If you want to stay inside, play a game like charades that will keep you standing up and moving.

Start now: Many people wait until after the holidays to start a regular exercise program, but why wait? Start slow and keep it simple if you’re new to exercise. The key is to find a routine you know you can commit to and most importantly have fun with.

For more information about EHP, visit their website.