Reports of the average weight gained by Americans from Thanksgiving to the New Year varies widely, depending on your source.  Let’s go with the best sounding one:  The New England Journal of Medicine says that the average person gains only one pound during the holidays.  The drawback – that person never loses it.  As the years roll by, that means more pounds are added on every winter.  Here are five tips to avoid gaining that pound (or more.)

1. Check your emotions.  The holiday season is a stressful time, with all of the hurried activities and demands.  It’s also a time that brings back nostalgic, or painful, memories of holidays gone by, causing many of us to seek out comfort food at a time when it is offered in abundance. Before overindulging, try beating your stress or sadness by reading a good book, soaking in a tub or taking a nap.  Focus on spending time with people who make you happy.

2. Don’t skip meals the day of a party.  We all look forward to the great meals and desserts and sometimes try to compensate for them by fasting beforehand.  Going to a party with an empty stomach will more likely cause you to overeat.  Instead, eat several small meals with plenty of protein and some healthy fat, to ward off hunger.

3. Wear snug clothes.  You don’t have to go to extremes here, but you also don’t want to hit the buffet table in your “fat pants.”  Wearing clothing that is close fitting around the waist will give you incentive to eat a little bit less than if you had plenty of room for expansion.  In addition, wear something you know makes you look great.  If you feel good about yourself, you’ll treat yourself  by eating well.

4. Check out all of your food options before you load your plate.  There’s bound to be some favorites at the other end of the table that you don’t see when you first get in line.  Take a look and choose the stuff you really want and pass on the stuff you can do without.

5. Trade a food party for a fun party.  Who says all holiday functions have to include a smorgasbord? Turn down an invite to a meal and join some friends for a day ice of skating or sledding instead.  You’ll save hundreds of calories and burn off some energy while you’re at it!