The holiday season is upon us and this is the perfect time to sit down and plan. Plan your outings; plan your list- and check it twice to keep you healthy and wise!

You know you have to purchase gifts and you are not looking forward to crowds, parking hassles and trying to find that perfect gift. First off, grab your favorite drink, sit down and list all those you need to buy for. Next, decide on a budget. You can have different levels of budget, depending on the person. For instance, maybe you want to spend a little more on children than adults. Whatever you decide, set a budget and stick to it.

It’s the thought, not the gift. There are always those who are difficult to buy for. Don’t fret, get creative, spend some time online and look for charities that you could donate to on their behalf. Chances are if they already have everything, they would appreciate the gesture and thought you put into the gift. A handmade card and some information on the organization will engage your recipient. They may be so influenced they may want to continue contributing year after year.

If you must go to the mall plan ahead by taking public transit; this will cut down on parking hassles, and sneaks in that 30 minutes of daily exercise. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and bring reusable shopping bags to carry your purchases; they are not just for grocery shopping. Be sure to bring snacks with you to keep your blood sugar level and your moods in check and drink water to keep your energy levels up.

The only person who truly is allowed to be jolly and fat is Santa. Avoid bingeaholic syndrome with some sensibility and planning. If you know you have an office party to go to, take action and plan ahead. The night before fix up a great lunch that contains fat, protein and vegetables as these will keep you satiated longer and level out blood sugar levels. Be sure to add enough food to your sack to cover snacks as well and add in adequate water.

Start your day with a great breakfast. It can be as simple as a protein and fruit smoothie. Take time out for your mid-morning snack and enjoy eating your great lunch. To avoid moodiness and that 3 o’clock slump, be sure to have your mid-afternoon snack. If your party is not until later that evening and you do not have the time to eat something beforehand, plan for that as well. Add an extra snack such as handful of nuts and an apple that will keep you satiated. This will allow you to make sensible choices once you reach your destination and avoid eating everything in sight. You will eat less, and keep your love handles at bay.

If it is a buffet style menu, and most of them are, be sure to grab the smallest plate and load it up with vegetables and protein. This will keep your insulin in check and make you fuller faster than carbohydrate selections. If you cannot resist the sweet table, take one of your favorites, and stick to the three bite rule: three bites and put it down.

Occupy your other hand with water, which will keep you properly hydrated. Water can actually aid in preventing sickness. When you breathe in a nasty cold bug or flu virus, water will sweep it out of your throat right into your stomach where stomach acid will then destroy it.

Be Merry with happy tunes and thoughts. In some parts of the country it can be difficult to keep your spirits positive when you have not seen the sun in days. Put pep in your step with the right supplements. Several studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D and feeling tired and feeling depressed. Adequate Vitamin D levels increased a sense of well-being, improved sleep patterns and aided in weight loss. Fish and fortified milk are the best sources of vitamin D. If you do not consume either one, there are many different fish oil supplements on the markets.

B vitamins provide you with a great source of natural energy and are easily depleted with stress and caffeine intake. Since the holidays increase stress levels, it is important to have adequate vitamin B in your diet. Foods rich in B vitamins are avocados, banana, dates, sardines, pomegranate, guava, nuts, seeds, clams, oysters, mussels, liver, caviar, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs.  Nutritional or Brewer’s yeast is another way to get a B vitamin boost. You can easily pop a scoop of nutritional yeast flakes into your morning smoothie.

Drink plenty of water to keep you well-hydrated. Water can actually boost your metabolism, and keep you energetic. Aim for 8 glasses of pure water a day. Keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum as they deplete your water reserves leaving you unable to cope with stress.  Water keeps you alert and energized.

Adequate sleep will also help you face the day in a chipper mood and keep you prepared for anything. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Make your room as dark as possible and keep electronic equipment, including your cellular phone out of the bedroom. This will ensure you sleep uninterrupted like we used to before the invention of the cell phone.

There you have it. Plan ahead; plan your list, your strategy and your diet and you will be decking the boughs of holly in a merry way. Happy Holidays!