Amy Reeder is a Certified Diabetes Educator with a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Utah. She has worked in the diabetes field since 2005 and has been a Certified Diabetes Educator since 2007. 

The songs say the holidays are "the most wonderful time of the year," but the holidays can also be a stressful time of year. If you’re worried about gaining weight or eating too many unhealthy foods, these four tips can help.

  1. Eat slowly and savor the flavors of the holidays. Most of the foods we eat this time of year are only available once a year. Put your fork down between bites of food. Take smaller portions and thoroughly enjoy each bite. Make a point of turning the TV, phone, or computer off during meals and snacks to fully appreciate the flavor of these unique holiday foods.

  2. Avoid the all-or-nothing mentality. Enjoy holiday treats. Don't eliminate them or restrict yourself too much. Avoiding certain foods altogether may lead to overeating later on. Just be aware of portion size and your environment. If you are at a party or buffet where lots of food is being served, scan the food table before digging in. Know your options. If everything looks good, take small portions of each. If only a few items are must-haves, allow yourself a little more and disregard the foods that are not worth the extra calories.

  3. Be aware of calories in and calories out. If you've had one too many holiday cookies, balance those calories with added physical activity that day. Weight maintenance occurs when calories in equal calories out. Weight gain occurs when calories in are greater than calories out.

  4. Don't get down on yourself. Even though the typical perception of weight gain during the holidays is five to 10 pounds, most people actually gain, on average, one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Bonus: make time for these three healthy habits

  1. Get enough sleep. More and more research suggests that sleep deprivation may lead to increased stress and weight gain. Shoot for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If it is hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep, make a point of going to sleep and waking at the same time every night and morning on weekdays and weekends.

  2. Stay moving. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, stand up and move. Do an extra lap around the mall after shopping. Walk around for five minutes every hour you are at work. Always make a point of taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator. Walk up and down your street before or after you get the mail.

  3. Get fresh air and a little sunshine every day. Walk around the block or step out your front door for some breaths of fresh air, even if the weather is "frightful." Cold air against your face can be very rejuvenating, especially during hectic days.

Enjoy the holidays and incorporate these tips to stay healthy.

To learn more about this topic:

Holiday Eating Strategies Part 2
Video: Holiday Eating Tips
The Emotional Side of Sticking to Your Diet over the Holidays