12/13/2013 02:10 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2014

Joan Moran: 7 Tips to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry During the Holidays

By Joan Moran

I love the holidays and I dread the holidays. I often over-eat and over-drink, but I have gobs of fun doing it. Quick as a flash, being mindful in mind/body/spirit takes a backseat to indulgence. Several years ago, after skipping my yoga classes and daily walks in favor of shopping for gifts and attending too many parties, I developed a holiday recipe that maintains balance:

Recipe for Holiday Merriness

10-20 oz. of meditation in the morning
(10-20 minutes of deep breathing)
50 oz. of gratitude
20 oz. of exercise
1 lb. of healthy eating
(preferably raw veggies and salads, skip the sugar and canapés)
3 oz. of alcohol at each holiday party
2 beers during football games
(skip the eggnog and Baileys)
Top it all off with: an infinite amount of mindfulness and service to others.
Stir together ingredients joyfully in your mind and body and allow it to penetrate your spirit.

No recipe would be complete without a method. Below are 7 tips to stay plugged into moderation and mindfulness, keep a consistent healthy lifestyle, and maybe even lose a few pounds while celebrating the holidays:

1. Mediate in the morning.
Holidays are a busy time. You want to charge out of bed and get to your tasks. But don't move a muscle when you wake up. Put a smile on your face before a thought comes into your head. Keep the mind clear by deepening your breath; then watch your breath for a few minutes. Deep breathing is a kind of healthy food for the mind, so stop frequently throughout the day and breathe. Slowly get out of bed, sit on a pillow, back to the wall, and continue to meditate, letting the thoughts go. When peace comes to you, get up slowly and start your day.

2. Don't forget to take your daily dose of gratitude.
Sometime during your meditation, shift your focus to being grateful for the gifts and joys in your life. There is no better feeling than being thankful. Gratitude lights up your world and gives back to you in ways you cannot count. During the holidays, make an intention to practice daily gratitude and watch your spirits soar.

3. Exercise every day, no matter what.
Sometime during the day, either before or after breakfast takes a brisk 20-minute or half-hour walk. As you walk, notice your breath. Try to take long breaths. Use a stopwatch or a second hand and see how many breaths you take in a minute. You might start with 10 breaths in a minute, then gradually decrease to 5 or 6 breaths. This exercise reduces the need to overeat and eliminates the "but I can't help it" mantra that often races through our minds during the holidays.

4. Make healthy eating choices.
There is so much food at our holiday parties. Our eyes glaze over a visual feast of awesome food combinations and sugar galore. We don't have to sample them all. Select very small portions of the not-so-healthy food and stick to the salads. Piling up your plate and going for seconds isn't part of a healthy. Select one cookie or brownie and stay away from the pastries. This is not a diet; this is a mindful way of making choices that are good for your body. I had to do this yesterday at a luncheon and I was so happy that I passed on the heavy pastas and meats that would have made me feel bloated and lethargic later on in the day.

5. Partake in veggies smoothies and drink lots of water.
I've been experimenting with veggie smoothies. I find that drinking a veggie concoction in the afternoon gives me an energy boost, hydrates my body, depresses my appetite, gives me fiber, and creates a sense of fullness and completion in my body and mind. Details: kale, spinach, pieces of apple, pineapple, avocado or banana, lemon, ginger, cinnamon turmeric and coconut water. If you don't have time to make a smoothie, drink lots of water throughout the day.

6. Limit your alcohol intake.
Drink a half glass of wine (skip the eggnog and Baileys). Wine is full of sugar and adds extra calories. You don't think about that when you party, but there is a cumulative effect with wine and alcohol. Sip your drink slowly, mix it with water, and stay aware of how much you are drinking all evening.

7. Be full of mindfulness and service.
Be mindful of everything you eat, drink, and do--including your purchasing decisions and how you structure your day. Thoughts are real, so you need to be careful about what you think because thoughts materialize in action. Take yourself out of the buying frenzy and engage in volunteer opportunities. Being of service to those less fortunate gives you a larger perspective about what others need. It's not about your instant gratification; it's about bringing happiness to those less fortunate. This is a part of the recipe that fills you up while shrinking your appetites.

Cultivate deliberation and make healthy decisions this holiday season. Merriness will surely result.

Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Moran is the author is "Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer." Visit her at