Healthy Holiday Eating: Ten Tips By John Casey WebMD Feature Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD From late November through New Year's Eve, the holiday season can seem like a five- or six-week-long smorgasbord. And for anyone not interested in bulging waistlines, this holiday obstacle course of high-fat foods, alcohol, and calories can seem insurmountable. But with some simple preparation, many of us can make it through the holiday season, if not any lighter than we were, at least not any heavier. Here are 10 tips from weight management experts that can help make your holiday season a healthy one. 1. "Don't try to diet during the holidays," says Lisa Giannetto, MD, associate in the department of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, in Durham, North Carolina. "Set a goal of trying to maintain your present weight. That way, you have a realistic goal. You allow yourself to indulge here and there, but you don't go over the edge." 2. "Pace, don't race," says dietitian Dawn Jackson, RD, who works at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Pay attention to how quickly you eat and exactly what you eat and drink. Savor the flavor by eating slowly and choosing your food carefully." 3. "Remember that alcohol is packed with calories," says Giannetto. "Choose light beer and wine over mixed drinks." A holiday-sized mixed drink can have as many as 500 calories or more, says Jackson. 4. Offer to bring a favorite low-calorie dish to holiday parties, so you know there will be at least one "safe" item available, says Jackson. "Stand far away from buffets so you're not tempted to nibble constantly." 5. "Make the effort to continue a regular exercise program," says Giannetto. "Exercise will help keep extra calories away, but it also can reduce the stress of social events and family get-togethers." 6. "Don't go to a party or event on an empty stomach," Jackson recommends. Before going out, snack on protein, like chicken or cottage cheese. Protein satisfies and helps you eat less. "Some people have the idea that if they skip lunch, or don't eat all day, they can eat more later," she says. "But skipping meals means you're hungry, and your chances of overeating later are much higher." 7. "Keep an eye on your portion sizes," Jackson says. In the heat of celebration, portion sizes can be excessive. Instead of eating a large amount of food, try to eat a large variety of foods. 8. Don't let a hectic holiday schedule force you to eat fast food, Giannetto advises. Prepare and freeze several quick, healthy meals. That way, you have an option other than high-fat, fast-food meals. 9. When the party is at your house, put low-calorie and fat-free salad dressings on the menu, Jackson says. Pack the table with flavorful vegetable dishes, and make reduced-fat versions of your family's favorite traditional dishes. 10. "Make decisions about what you're going to eat," says Giannetto. "Weight management is all about moderation and making healthy decisions."