'Tis the season for weight gain: Heed these helpful hints to keep in balance

It's official. Thanksgiving's bounty signals the start to overeating. If you're like most, it's easy to become overwhelmed at how much of everything there is: the sweet and savory treats, the traditional multi-course meals, and the free-flowing cocktails and bubbly beverages that accompany every special occasion from now to the New Year.

You tell yourself you'll cease and desist come Jan. 1 - diving into the holiday food frenzy one more time.

Trouble is, most folks don't lose that holiday weight - ever. And while you may gain only a pound or two around the holidays, if you've been telling yourself the same thing for the past five years, you may be carrying around an extra five to 10 pounds.

Sound familiar?

If you're tired of giving in to temptation, try a few new tactics this holiday season to keep yourself in check - both in terms of your weight and your sanity.
  1. Get - or keep - moving. Physical activity is a great way to burn extra calories. If you typically work out three or four times a week, at a half hour each time, step it up: try four times, at 45 minutes each time. Whatever you do and for however long you do it, adjust your routine throughout the holidays to compensate for extra calorie consumption. If you do only one thing this holiday season to offset your overindulgence, make it exercise.

  2. Make seven your lucky number. Eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day - but especially on those days when you know you'll be faced with temptation. When you're satisfied by fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and low in calories, you'll be less likely to reach for, say, the cheese ball or the buttery holiday cookies to quell hunger pangs. Grab a handful of baby carrots or an apple before you head to your holiday gathering, and be sure to drink plenty of water. That way, you won't be famished when you arrive - and chances are better that you'll be more selective about what you put on your plate.

  3. Use a smaller plate. If you use a smaller plate, there's a strong likelihood that you'll dish up - and eat - less. The good news: you won't even miss the extra food.

  4. Don't starve yourself in the wake of a binge. If you overeat one night, don't deprive yourself of much-needed nourishment the next day as penance. Instead, choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein. It's especially important to eat your breakfast.

  5. Sleep more. Studies repeatedly show that too little sleep can make you irritable, unfocused and, yes, hungrier. Get at least seven hours of sleep each night - and if you don't, or can't get that much sleep, consider naps. You'll keep up your energy and keep your hunger in check.

  6. Don't wear loose clothing. Planning to ditch your waist-constricting pants in anticipation of making merry with food and drink? Wearing loose-fitting clothing or clothing with elastic waistbands allows you to eat with impunity, but you'll likely pay the price later on.

  7. Don't try to lose weight. Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to knock off a few pounds during one of the most calorie-laden times of the year. Instead, aim to maintain your weight. How to do that? See suggestion No. 1.