It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for pumpkin pie, cookies, eggnog, and other tempting treats. This time of year has been aptly dubbed the “eating season.” Many people establish healthy lifestyles only to have their routines derailed during these months. Health coach, Sonia Magruder, offers tips to coach her clients through the upcoming holiday season.

Sonia Magruder’s journey to becoming a health coach

About nine years ago, Sonia was trying to keep pace with the stressful grind of real estate. She clocked 60 to 70 hours a week and felt like she was on-demand 24/7. Her husband was busy with his real estate investment business, flipping houses, and managing their rental properties. Her fast-paced lifestyle came to a head when she and her husband became caregivers for her mother. “We had a lot on our plates,” she remembers. “Often, when you’re a caregiver, the last person you take care of is yourself. We had put on weight. We were waking up exhausted. We weren’t sleeping through the night. We had poor digestion and just knew we needed a change.”

At that time, one of Sonia’s trusted friends recommended a health cleanse. She and her husband tried it and were astounded by the results. “Just a few days in, we were feeling incredible,” she says. “We had less bloat, and our energy level was off the charts.”

During the first ten days of the cleanse, Sonia lost nine pounds and an inch and a half off her stomach. Her husband reported losing 11 pounds. “We were blown away,” she comments. “It was a profound life-changing experience.

Sonia has been on a personal health journey ever since. Today, she’s educating others to make the same simple changes and achieve fundamental shifts in their health. In the beginning, she shared her transformation while working full-time, but now she works as a full-time health coach. “I felt like everybody deserved to feel this good,” she says.

Sonia’s tips for staying healthy during the holidays

Sonia coaches clients to prepare for the eating season. “If we prepare ourselves, we can keep from getting derailed and experiencing setbacks in our wellness.”

Avoid skipping meals during the holidays

The biggest challenge to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this time of year is the abundance of food. Sonia advises clients not to counter the excess at parties and gatherings by skipping meals. A healthy snack beforehand can help control overeating during the festivities. “Get on a micronutrient-dense program that truly nourishes the body, and that will give you enough structure to stay on track,” she suggests. A filling snack such as veggies, fruit, and raw nuts can curb the appetite just enough to help with moderation at the buffet. Shift the focus away from food during the holidays

During the party, it can help to be mindful of focus. Shifting attention away from the plates of food and onto friends, family, and conversation can be healthy for more than just the body. During social gatherings, people can take time to enjoy the entertainment and reconnect with loved ones. “Holistic wellness is all about the whole being—mind, body, and community,” comments Magruder. “It’s not just about what we put in our mouths.”

Bring a healthy dish to holiday gatherings

Holiday buffets are often loaded with treats and devoid of healthy options. Magruder advises clients to take control of at least one offering. “If going to a party,” she says, “bring a healthy dish that everyone can enjoy.”

Eat healthy without feeling deprived during the holidays

On the other hand, it’s unrealistic to abstain from every holiday treat. There are a few holiday foods people look forward to all year. Picking one or two splurges at a party allows them to avoid overindulging without feeling deprived.

Avoid alcohol during the holidays

The eating season also happens to be full of drinks. Magruder advises her clients to choose their drinks wisely. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories and have the added effect of lowering inhibitions. Calorie-free drinks like tea, seltzer, or water are healthier options, but people don’t have to settle. “Go for a “mocktail,” says Magruder. “Tart cherry juice in sparkling water with a lime wedge is delicious, loaded with antioxidants, and feels like a fancy cocktail.”

Say no to food pushers during the holidays

People are bombarded by food during this time of year. It’s easy to make compromises of convenience rather than holding firm to healthy choices. Turning down seconds from an insistent aunt or dodging Grandma’s extra-large piece of pie takes tact. Polite ways to decline food are great to have on hand. If guilt prevails, there’s always the option of asking to take home leftovers.

Navigating the eating season can be challenging. Mistakes are bound to happen, but people don’t have to give up on living healthy lifestyles from October to January. Taking steps to approach the eating season with mindfulness and moderation allows everyone to enjoy the festivities and come through without regrets.For more information on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, readers can visit Magruder’s website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.