If you want to start leading a healthier lifestyle, you don’t need to do an overhaul on your whole life to see results. Even if you do plan on making drastic changes, these changes should be done slowly to give yourself time to adjust and improve your chances at long-term success. A little exercise along with some healthy eating habits can help you feel slimmer and more fit in no time.

Choose the Healthier Alternative

In the grocery store, go for the plain popcorn instead of the super drenched movie theatre butter flavour. At a restaurant, substitute your fries for a salad or change your carb loaded potatoes to a lighter vegetable. For breads and pastas, give the whole wheat types a try. Even when you just have to have your chocolate fix, try one of the darker types of chocolate that contain less sugar. Whatever you’re choosing to eat, take a moment to consider what a healthier option would be.

Portion Control

Limiting how much you eat is one of the most important tips for healthy eating. Some people can’t bear to give up their favourite foods, but cutting your portions in half still allows you to enjoy what you love with half the guilt. Getting the “100 calorie” packages of the chips and chocolates you can’t live with out will remind you how much you’re consuming so you know to stop when the package is empty.

Alcohol and Those Extra Calories

When you’re going to a social event and you want to have a few drinks with your friends, you don’t need to throw your healthy eating plan out the window. Switching to a lighter beer or drinking spirits with a low calorie mixer can reduce the amount of calories you’ll be consuming. To cut that number in half again, alternate your alcoholic beverages with a glass of water or another non-alcoholic, low calorie beverage.

Break Your Bad Habits

Pay attention to your eating habits over the course of a few days and pinpoint the times you snack the most. If you tend to blow through a bag of chips while sitting in front of the TV, stop snacking in your living room or switch your snacks to veggies and fat free dip. If you tend to binge eat after a stressful day at work, reflect on the things that have upset you and find other ways to deal with your stress.

Healthy eating habits can be learned little by little until they’ve become second nature to you. The more you learn, the less you’ll need to struggle with your eating habits. As it becomes easier you’ll be able to make more and more changes to reach your healthy eating goals.

Sticking to your healthy eating plan when your fridge is filled with vegetables and there’s no temptation in sight can be much easier than sitting two feet away from a buffet table loaded with gingerbread cookies and eggnog every night for a week. Once the holidays come around, you’ve got food filled parties and get-togethers to attend every night so it’s important to have a strategy to avoid binging until January rolls around.

Stay Full

Having a healthy breakfast that morning and filling up on fruit and veggies before you head to your next Christmas party will reduce your cravings for all the cakes and cookies you’ll be faced with. Once you do decide to grab a plateful from the buffet table, load it with the leaner meats, vegetables, and whole wheat crackers. If you still need a sweet fix after that, limit yourself to just one then position yourself further away from that table.

Drink Smart

Alcoholic drinks can be loaded with hidden calories so be aware that what you’re drinking could be sabotaging you. Choose a lower calorie beer or mix spirits with a sugar free type of mix. Alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water or low calorie juice can greatly reduce the amount of extra calories you’re consuming.

If having eggnog and hot chocolate is a tradition you just can’t give up, limit yourself to just one of those types of drinks. These beverages are loaded with fat and sugar, so drinking too much of them too many nights in a row can destroy the benefits of all the other healthy eating habits you’ve been practicing. Another option could be watering these beverages down with some skim milk to cut out a bit of the extra fat.

Bring Healthy Options

A lot of get-togethers around the holidays tend to be potluck style parties. Especially if you know your friends aren’t the type to bring healthier options, be sure that what you bring is geared towards healthy eating. You may even find that quite a few other people will enjoy the healthier options you’ve provided them.

Sticking to any workout regimen you currently have can be great incentive to stick to your healthy eating routine as well. If you throw in the towel over the holidays you’ll probably be wracked with guilt throughout the entire month of January. Forgetting about healthy eating is a slippery slope, so telling yourself you’re still doing a good job will help motivate you to stay at least somewhat strict in front of that cookie platter.