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If you’re trying to avoid putting on weight this holiday season, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol.

Liquid calories from alcohol (and mixers such as soft drinks) can mean that you consume far more calories than you intended and it’s not great for your health either. A lot of people find themselves drinking more at this time of year than any other, with the intention of balancing things out with a detox January.

The holidays can be a difficult time to start a more mindful approach to alcohol but there are still lots of ways to enjoy yourself without alcohol involved. Your waistline and your health will thank you!

Know why you’re doing it

What’s your main reason for ditching alcohol? Maybe you want to get healthier or lose weight. Or maybe you don’t enjoy the after effects if you’ve overindulged. Whatever the reason(s), write it down and pin it somewhere obvious. To really reinforce it in your mind, you can put stickies in lots of different places to keep reminding you whenever your motivation takes a hit.

Drinking alcohol messes with your sleep and makes you feel lousy the next day, avoiding drinking at all during the holiday season is a great way to ensure you feel your best.

It’s also helpful to think about why you tend to reach for alcohol in the first place. Is it a confidence booster? Do you feel better about yourself when you start drinking? Or do you feel obliged to drink because your social circle does? This can help you to work out whether you’re drinking alcohol because you really enjoy it or because there’s something deeper going on that you need to address.

Be selective with accepting invitations

If you know that alcohol is going to be the main part of an event and you don’t want to drink much (or any) alcohol, you might want to think twice about accepting an invitation.

It can be a lot harder to stick to your guns when you’re not drinking alcohol, although there is often the option to swap alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic versions and still get involved in the party atmosphere. If you can see potential for going easy on the alcohol and still being part of the event, go ahead and accept the invitation.

Stick to true holiday pleasures and avoid the rest

Love a bit of mulled wine over the holidays? Treat yourself to the odd glass and ditch everything else alcoholic. You can look forward to these little pleasures much more and really savour it. Chances are, the rest of the alcohol you’d normally drink isn’t such a lovely treat and may even just be a habit.

If you feel you really can’t say no to the Christmas drinks like Mulled Wine and Egg Nog, stick to those only and leave the rest.

Visualize yourself having fun without alcohol

It can be hard to imagine yourself having fun without alcohol if you’ve previously used it to boost your confidence to help you to relax. One tip that can work well involves visualization. More specifically, you can visualize yourself effortlessly enjoying holiday events without any alcohol at all.

Visualization can be a powerful mental tool – so much so that elite athletes use it prepare for sporting events. If you can “see” yourself having a great time without alcohol, it’s much easier for this to happen in reality.

Get like-minded friends on board

Holiday events can be super hard if you’re the only one not drinking but it’s a whole different ball game if you have supportive friends on board to get you through.

Depending on why you’ve decided to ditch alcohol, you might be surprised how easy it is to encourage your friends to join you in your efforts. Plus, it’s so much more fun when you’re not the only teetotaller as everyone will be focused on having fun without alcohol.

Keep a drink in hand

Keeping a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at holiday events can stop any well intentioned offers of an alcoholic drink. If you have a drink already, there’s far less chance that you’ll end up caving due to peer pressure.

Focus on the people and settle in to the event and ignore the alcohol. You are there to see friends and family, not to drink.

If you’re still offered an alcoholic drink, just say “I’m good, thanks!” and move on. There’s no need to explain why you’re not going gaga for another drink or a top up. This can work well in situations where you don’t want to make a big deal about not drinking but you don’t want to feel obliged to drink either.

Commit yourself to being truly present at events

If you’d normally drink for social reasons, get into the habit of not hiding behind alcohol and really committing yourself to being part of the event.

I know, this can be super hard if you’re not used to showing your real self and you know there will be strangers at the event. But if you’re just catching up with friends or family, give alcohol a miss. You’ll probably find that you enjoy yourself a lot more than you think.

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