High 5: Secrets to Avoid Holiday Overeating

Avoid falling victim to holiday feasts, festivities and food.

Dec. 10, 2010— -- The holiday season means feasts, festivities and lots of food. And if you're naughty, Santa might bring you an extra five pounds around your waistline.

Registered dietician and ABC News contributor Cynthia Sass offers the top 5 tips to avoid holiday overeating:

No. 5: Don't drink on an empty stomach.

Without food in your stomach, alcohol gets absorbed quickly, which means it will hit your brain in less than five minutes. That will lower your inhibitions and up your appetite, a recipe for overeating. Before your first sip, eat a small handful of nuts or a few cubes of cheese. The protein and fat both get emptied from your stomach slower, creating a better buffer for alcohol.

No. 4: Bring a safety dish.

When you bring a dish to share, you're helping out the hostess and yourself. It will help fill you up and balance out smaller portions of high calorie foods like mini quiche or dumplings. A veggie tray with hummus for dipping is a great choice. It's not unusual party fare so you won't stand out. A cup of veggies, the size of a baseball, and a quarter cup of hummus, the size of a golf ball, only pack 125 calories, about half the calories in just one chicken finger.

No. 3: Out of sight, out of mind.

Stand out of arm's reach of the buffet table. Studies show that the amount of effort it takes you to obtain food and how visible it is greatly impact how much you'll eat. One study found that in a cafeteria, people ate more ice cream when the lid of the ice cream cooler was left open than when it was closed. Another study showed that people given a sandwich in a transparent wrap ate more than those who were given sandwiches in an opaque wrap. "Out of sight, out of mind" really does hold true.

No. 2: Dress for awareness.

Whether it's a clingy dress, slim-fitting pants, a belt or a body shaper, constricting clothing can definitely prevent you from overdoing it. When fully expanded, your stomach can hold about six cups of food, the size of six baseballs! So an anti-expansion strategy is a smart strategy for helping you stay in touch with your hunger meter.

Top Tip to Avoid Holiday Overeating

No. 1: Outsmart the post-party munchies.

Alcohol can up your appetite, so if you come home from a holiday party a little tipsy, you may be apt to reach for a snack before you go to bed. So think before you go. On your way out the door, pop up some healthy, low-calorie popcorn, put it in a bowl and leave it out in plain sight. When you get home, you'll reach for that instead of a bag of chips. One cup of healthy popcorn has only 25 calories compared to 150 calories in just 13 potato chips.