The holiday season is just around the corner, which means it’s that time of the year when parties are in full swing and delicious food is abundant. Hence, it’s also the scariest time for dieters following a strict weight loss meal plan because the temptation to indulge is literally everywhere.

Although making and committing to a healthy weight loss meal plan for the holidays can be difficult, it’s totally doable. Check out these 7 smart meal plan tips to avoid the holiday belly bulge:

1. Go for low-calorie food items.

Include leafy greens, lean proteins, and vegetable dishes in your holiday diet. Avoiding rich food will be quite impossible, so just be sure to take smaller portions of it. Don’t forget to include high-fiber items in your list such as raisins, oatmeal, bran cereal, etc. to help you maintain your digestive health.

2. Drink to a healthy body.

One glass of eggnog has 500 calories (shocking, we know) while beer, wine, and other mixed beverages range from 150 to 230 calories. If you will consume alcohol, always have a glass of seltzer or water in between the drinks. Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach, though, because it can increase your appetite. This diminishes your control over what you eat.

3. Be mindful of your heart.

7 Tips to Planning a Realistic Weight Loss Meal Plan for the Holidays1Show your friends and family that you care about them by preparing food that is good for the heart. Use your creativity to whip up meals that use less lard, cream, vegetable shortening, butter, and other high-cholesterol ingredients. Instead of red meat, you can prepare fish or turkey as healthier substitutes for your holiday dinner.

4. Keep away from grains.

People who consume fewer grains actually consume less alcohol. This part of your weight loss meal plan might be tough to follow, but it really works. Drinking a few glasses of wine can get you up to 2,000 to 3,000 calories at a party, so it’s definitely worth staying away—even just for the night.

5. Try yogurt dips.

Skip the full-fat dips and try yogurt dips. With so much of the main meal to come, you wouldn’t want to waste calories on dips made of full-fat sour cream. Yogurt is a much healthier and tastier option for dipping your veggies, fresh fruits, tortilla chips, and more.

6. Eat whole-wheat rolls.

Dinner rolls pack 100 to 200 calories each – making them one of the easiest holiday food items to skip for this year’s realistic weight loss meal plan. If you are already eating carbohydrate-packed stuffing but can’t let go of the dinner rolls, consider the whole-wheat variant.

7. Swap cheese with nutritional yeast.

Cheese always has a spot on the dinner table during the holidays, but too much of it can make you gain extra pounds. Nutritional yeast is a good substitute for it because of its cheese-like flavor. It can be used on everything, from mashed potatoes to roasted meat and vegetables.

Don’t let two months of treats, delicious food, and parties compromise your fitness and health goals. While it may be difficult to avoid the holiday eating frenzy, you can still enjoy the most wonderful time of the year without sacrificing your health by following a realistic weight loss meal plan. Choose food wisely so you can welcome a better, happier, and fitter YOU next year!