Avoiding The Holiday Pounds

With the holidays in full swing, people have a tendency to eat now and worry about the consequences later.

Keith Ayoob, a nutritionist and spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, says there's no reason you can't have an enjoyable holiday season, eating the foods you like while maintaining your weight and staying healthy.

Ayoob visited The Early Show to give some tips on eating what you enjoy during the holidays without packing on the pounds.

Have a Plan

To successfully get through the holidays without depriving yourself and without gaining a pant size, Ayoob says you need a plan. Yes, there's going to be a lot of food available over the next few weeks -- you need a way to deal with it.

Most of the time people eat a lot without really thinking about it. Instead, Ayoob says to anticipate what you're going to be faced with such as people bringing holiday cookies and cakes to work. Give yourself an allowance for that.

Have a lean breakfast and a lean lunch so that you can indulge on a couple of cookies without consequence.

Don't Skip Meals

This is a good rule to keep throughout the year. Eat regular meals and you'll be less tempted to binge and have three slices of Grandma's holiday cheesecake.

Don't Arrive Starving

Ayoob advises not to skip meals and don't arrive at the party starving. Even if it's a dinner party and you're there for a meal, have a small bite to tide you over before arriving at the party. You can't control what time the meal is going to start. There may be trays of appetizers available before the meal is served. Having a healthy snack before you get to the party should prevent you from going straight for the appetizers.

Ayoob says each little appetizer can easily be 150 to 200 calories. If you eat five or six of them, that's over 1,000 calories before the meal has even started. Plus, if you have something in your stomach when you arrive at the party, it will help buffer any alcohol you might drink and you won't get drunk as quickly.

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol has a lot of calories - especially mixed drinks. Ayoob says you can arrive at the party with the best intentions, but then you have a few drinks, lose your inhibitions and think nothing of overeating. You should limit alcohol intake to one or two drinks -- especially if it's a work party.

Make Healthy Alternatives

If you're having a party or family party, bring something that you're comfortable eating. If you bring a dish that's high in calories, Ayoob suggests bringing an alternative. Buy a lot of grapes, which is perfect party food. The key is to give people options.

Also, the holiday is not the time to slow down on physical activity. Plan exercise for the day after or even the day of the party. Ayoob says you'll feel better about yourself.