The ‘Home Made Simple’ star is sharing her tips on how to avoid packing on the pounds during the festive season. And, yes, the former boxer says you can still enjoy yourself.

It’s that time of the year again. With Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parties, Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year all on the horizon, there are plenty of opportunities to overindulge over the next few weeks. But Home Made Simple host Laila Ali says that you don’t have to pile on the pounds during the festive season. In fact, the 41-year-old mom-of-two says that you can indulge without putting on weight. All you need is a plan.

“The thing about the holiday season is we’re eating more rich foods than normal; foods that you normally wouldn’t be eating, or going to holiday parties and things like that,” the former boxer tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “First of all, you’ve got to come up with a plan. If you’re like, ‘OK, I normally gain weight,’ you need to say, ‘I’m going to prevent that from happening.’”

But, how exactly do you do that? When it comes to holiday parties, Laila suggests filling up on healthy foods before you go. “That way, you’re not going to arrive hungry and just scarf down everything. You want to enjoy yourself, but you want to show up with some food in your belly and then you can [have] small portions of things and taste so you’re not missing out,” she says. “You’re not feeling like you can’t have anything, but you’re just not starving where your defenses are going to be down.”

Laila suggests filling up on foods that are “rich in veggies and nutrients.” The same applies to Thanksgiving dinner. “I’m going to fill up on salad and veggies and then have smaller portions of the things that have the sugar and the carbs,” she says. Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner, if you’re in charge of cooking, Laila recommends that you “try to lighten up your recipes.” “We’re already making a bunch of side dishes and protein dishes,” she says. “Then you have dessert. You’re eating thousands and thousands of calories.” Laila suggests cutting back on some of those calories by doing simple things like using less butter and oil. Also, “portion control,” the Food For Life: Delicious & Comfort Food From My Table To Yours author says, is “everything.”

Of course the retired athlete and daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali says that we should aim to stay active during the holiday season. She also recommends drinking lots of water. If you find that hard to do, she has tips on how to flavor your water with fresh fruit and herbs. “I love adding rosemary and lemon,” she says. “Fresh rosemary is amazing in water and a little bit of lemon… Take some water, put it in a glass container and then add a whole big sprig of rosemary. It really tastes surprisingly good.” Laila says that drinking sparkling water and even ice tea are other good ways to make sure that you stay hydrated.

Laila shared her tips with us on Nov. 5 while promoting her DIY series, Home Made Simple, which airs on OWN on Saturdays at 9am ET.

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