Cheese trays, sausage rolls, an endless supply of cookies and chocolate at the office—food is ubiquitous at this time of year. But it's a myth that the average person gains 10 pounds over the holidays—a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found it's actually less than a pound. Still, you won't feel great if you eat everything in sight. Here's how to sample the bounty without feeling sluggish.
Be a snack snob. "It's amazing how all the little things add up," says Taylor, a spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. So be picky. Rank seasonal treats, then "eat your favourite and skip the rest," she suggests.
Keep eating. After a decadent breakfast or a cookie binge, you may feel like fasting for the rest of the day. Instead, plan your next healthy snack or meal and make sure you're eating every three to four hours. "Going into a meal hungry will lead to overeating and excess calories," says Taylor. The ideal snack balances protein with carbs, so try a quarter cup of almonds alongside an apple or a tangerine.
Have a buffet plan. Research out of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has shown that, when faced with variety, most of us will overeat. "We don't want to miss out on anything," says Taylor. At your next self-serve meal, don't jump in before you've done reconnaissance. Identify the caloric fillers worth skipping, such as bread, crackers and cheese. Then, try the Eat Well Plate method: half of the plate is vegetables, a quarter is whole grains and a quarter is protein.