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Healthy Eating Tips For The Holidays

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It's holiday party season, so we have a question for you: How's your waistline doing?

With all sorts of tasty treats, it's hard this time of year to stick to a healthy diet.

Dr. Max Gomez has some tips.

It starts with Thanksgiving and by the time we get to New Year's, the average American may have gained as much as five pounds.

The good news you can avoid it, with a little planning.

"The amount of temptation is increased considerably. You go to a lot of parties, everything's free. You're in a holiday mood, and you let your guard down," said heart patient Dale Burg.

It's the classic holiday party dilemma, and we've still got another three weeks of temptation: More food, more drink. No wonder we gain weight this time of year, Gomez reported. But you really can avoid a lot of those extra pounds with a little preparation, beginning with your mindset.

"You have to do a little planning, beginning with never go to a party hungry," said Dr. Sharon Zarabi of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Going to a party hungry is a prescription for overeating, Gomez reported. Instead, before a party, have a little protein, like a couple of boiled eggs and some fiber, like an apple with a glass of water. It fills you up and stays with you, so you're less likely to gorge.

Another tip: When you get to the party or the big family meal, do a little reconnaissance first.

"Take a look at all the food so you don't fill up your plate with food and then get to stuff that you really want to eat," said Zarabi.

Don't think of self control as deprivation: You can have pretty much everything you want - just not a lot of everything you want.

"Take just a taste or bite of all those things," Zarabi said. "It's about portion control."

If you know you're going to be indulging, build in some extra time for exercise to burn off all those extra calories. It can even help prevent overdoing it in the first place.

"Exercise releases all those endorphins that actually make you feel better, and even controls your appetite," Zarabi said.

Finally, beer, wine and spirits are loaded with calories - empty calories at that, Gomez reported. Plus alcohol lowers your self control, which means you're less likely to resist that extra slice of pie or a whole second plate of food.

Go easy on the booze. Water is your friend.

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