For many, the holiday season triggers a wave of excitement over the prospect of parties, presents and hearty feasts. However, the season for giving also triggers its fair share of unhealthy habits, causing the majority of the population to gain unwanted pounds in all the wrong places. Luckily you can buck that trend and continue to hit benchmarks with your health and fitness goals with the help of these seven healthy holiday hacks:
1. BYO Healthy Dish to Holiday Parties
One culprit of holiday weight gain is the many rich, sugar-laden dishes that are considered a part of the tradition. From pecan pie (33 grams of sugar per slice, before whip cream) to eggnog (20 grams of sugar per cup, without alcohol) there’s no shortage of food and beverages that contain an abundance of added sugars. To avoid overindulging and keep your added sugar intake below 25 grams per day, as recommended by Factor Head Dietitian, Christina Fitzgerald, plan ahead and put together a healthy alternative in advance.
Note: If you need help finding healthy recipes, feel free to reach out and ask the Factor dietitian team!
2. Use Smaller Dinnerware for Portion Control
While watching what you put on your plate is critical, it turns out that the plate and utensils you use can impact portion control. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that even nutrition experts, who know about mindless eating and portion control, consumed 31 percent more food when given larger bowls and spoons. While that study was just a small sample size, this simple yet impactful precaution would seem a wise move for anybody looking to stay healthy during the holidays. 
3. Burn Calories Staying Active
When it comes to holiday health maintenance, a strategy for monitoring what you eat and how much of it you eat is best complemented by a strategy to stay active. Sure, the frigid winter weather can make it tough to perform traditional outdoor exercises – especially in colder climates – but there are still many ways to burn calories by staying active. You can embrace the cold weather and hit the ski slopes (360 to 532 calories burned per hour), head to your local gym for a quick indoor cycling session (420 – 622 calories burned per hour) or even perform at-home exercises with the assistance of workout apps and home equipment. Bottom line – the options are there, it’s just up to you to get up and get moving!
4. Manage Your Stress Levels
While many people experience a rise in happiness, love and general high spirits during the holidays, studies show that stress levels also tend to rise. Since stress has shown to increase the likelihood of weight gain, it’s crucial that you set boundaries and remember to take care of yourself this holiday season. For starters, consider taking up yoga, as it is a proven method for reducing stress and anxiety. You could also get ahead of your shopping list and save money by taking advantage of online Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.   
5. Brush Off ‘Health Shaming’
Sadly, it’s likely that some people at the events you’ll be attending will not share your enthusiasm for conquering unhealthy holiday habits. In fact, you may even experience “health shaming,” or comments that undercut your efforts to stay on track. Don’t allow this negative pressure toward your positive efforts derail you and roll any discouraging comments off your shoulder.
6. Say ‘No, Thank You’ to Leftovers
Holiday parties often end with the host handing out leftovers to guests. While the temptation of having delicious, ready-to-eat holiday food may seem enticing, having readily available unhealthy foods sitting in your fridge can leave you susceptible to emotional eating. As such, it’s best just to say “no, thank you” to leftovers. Plus, you just dodged multiple weight-gain bullets, so don’t sabotage yourself as you’re on your way out the door.