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I want to stick to my diet during the holidays. Is it hopeless?

The question

What's the best way to stay in control when you feel like pigging out at a holiday party?

The answer

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Yes, it's that time of year, with holiday parties and all the treats that come with them (not to mention sweets piled up at the office). With so many temptations, it's challenging not to overeat. But there are a few strategies you can use that can help prevent overindulging.

Make a plan for each event. Decide in advance how many courses you'll order, how many hors d'ouevres you'll nibble on, and so on. Putting limits on what and how much you're going to eat will lower the odds of overdoing it.

Don't arrive hungry. Take the edge off your appetite before a party by eating a protein-rich snack such as a small handful of nuts, a container of yogurt, low-fat cheese or a small energy bar. Even a bowl of soup can help you eat fewer hors d'ouevres or less of your entrée.

And do not - I repeat do not - skip breakfast and lunch to save all your calories in anticipation of holiday meal or party. This tactic will backfire, ensuring you arrive at the event ravenous and ready to eat everything in sight.

Pass on the mundane. Seeing a wide variety of foods can be overwhelming and prompt overeating. Enjoy the holiday foods you love in reasonable portions and pass on the ones you don't. Stay away from standard fare that you can have any time - paté, nuts, cheese and crackers, and so on. Make the most of your extra calories.

If you drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink an hour. It takes an hour for your body to metabolize one alcoholic drink. Drinking more often will result in a higher blood alcohol concentration - and a weaker resolve to eat moderately. Alternate alcoholic drinks with sparkling water, cranberry and soda, or tomato juice.

Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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Read more Q&As from Leslie Beck.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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