Throughout the holiday season, temptations are everywhere — a busy social schedule, office and school parties, family functions, and neighborly gestures of sweets and treats. You need a strategy for dealing with the abundance of calories that are part and parcel of the holiday season.

Most people gain 2-5 pounds each year during the feasting season that starts at Thanksgiving and ends New Year’s Day.

The plan: Aim to hold steady at your current weight and focus on not gaining any additional pounds by Jan. 1.

It is so hard to resist temptation, but it gets easier if you’re equipped with a plan. Follow these tips to help you survive family gatherings without sabotaging your diet:

  • Review your eating plan and see if you can reserve a few food items during the week to save up for the holiday feast. Getting hungry between meals can lead to bingeing, and we sure don’t want that to happen!
  • Portion control is critical to prevent weight gain. Enjoy small portions of foods high in fat and calories, share a dessert, limit alcohol, and fill up on simply prepared, nutritious selections like turkey breast and vegetables.
  • Enjoy a small but filling meal before the gathering to prevent overeating. A salad, a bowl of vegetable soup, or a sandwich on whole-grain bread are all good examples of mini-meals.
  • Don’t stand near the buffet or appetizers at a holiday gathering. It’s hard to know when you’ve had enough food when you stand around nibbling!

Other ways to set the stage to eat less or maintain your same weight:

  • Make time for exercise.
  • Bring a healthy dish.
  • Host a nutritious party.
  • Don’t fall for the “eat, eat, eat” from family members.
  • Make new traditions, start the day with a family activity or a walk, make lighter recipes, and most important, move food out of the limelight and focus on the love and fellowship of family and friends.

Remember, the real reason we gather is to celebrate the holidays, together.