Eat lightly before the festive dinner
You may eat less food at that holiday meal if you eat light but regular meals earlier in the day, says a Stanford University dietitian.
JoAnn Hattner recommends a wholesome breakfast and then a light snack or meal at midday if the holiday meal isn't until evening.
"But keep in mind that calories are calories, and the total for the day is what counts," she said.
"If you begin a meal extremely hungry and with accompanying low blood sugar, you are more likely to overeat. For many people, fasting all day before a late afternoon or evening meal will actually cause more weight gain than if they'd eaten lightly before the feast," Hattner said.
Social influences also prompt many people to eat more, says Hattner. "The more people gathered at a meal, the more they tend to eat. And they may eat more because they're eating comfort foods that remind them of happy times with family. These are often foods that you haven't enjoyed for a long time," she added.
"Even if you go ahead and gorge yourself, remember that just as the holiday was special, the next day gives you another chance. Try some brisk exercise the next morning, followed by a return to your wholesome diet."