Health Check: Healthy holiday eating

With all the office parties and holiday gatherings, everything this time of year seems to revolve around food.

"Well, there's so much food available, so much socializing. We show up at someone's house, they have food out and we just start to mindlessly eat," said Mary Flynn, Ph.D.

Flynn, a research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital, said tip No. 1 is to not starve yourself in anticipation of a holiday gathering.

"That's the worst because when you do that and you start eating, you overeat. So, you either eat normally that day, just go to the party and try to behave. And if you don't, you can always eat less the next day."

And Flynn said exercise more the next day. Don't overreact if you overeat. It happens. But to try to keep your cool at the food table and plan ahead.

"Stick with things that are specific to that holiday. Don't eat potato chips. Don't eat pretzels and cheese and crackers. Just think ahead and plan for those foods," Flynn said.

Here's a do: eat plenty of vegetables. They tend to fill you up. Craving sweets? Substitute that egg nog and cookies. Don't go overboard for lunch. Don't do both.

Flynn is from the school of thought that snacking throughout the day can be counterproductive and actually make you pack on the pounds.

"I more suggest that people eat a healthy fat at every meal. So, it's nuts in your breakfast cereal, peanut butter, olive oil at lunch, olive oil at dinner. If you have fat at the meal you're not hungry between the meal, so you don't need to snack," Flynn said.

Want a cocktail? Flynn said wine is your best bet.

"There are studies showing people who drink wine don't gain weight by adding weight," Flynn said.

Consume in moderation.

And here's something to chew on. One study shows the average person gains one pound over the holiday. Problem is they don't lose it, and the more you gain the easier it is to gain.

One more tip. It's cold outside. And while many people aren't fans of the cold, it can actually help you lose weight because your body burns calories -- kind of like a furnace -- to keep you warm.

Walk outside more and turn your heat down. You'll save money too.