Being that I am a Registered Dietitian, I do have some pretty valuable tips to help you from gaining unnecessary weight during the holidays (and all year round). The holidays are a time for enjoying all of the festivities but that doesn't mean you have to starve yourself.
Tip #1 - It is perfectly acceptable to enjoy all of the food of the holidays - but in moderation! That is the key - PORTION CONTROL!! Try a bite of all that you want to try, but only a bite and try to avoid a second plate/helping. Otherwise your caloric intake will gradually increase leading to some extra LBS after the New Year.
Tip #2 - Exercise/Physical Activity. Everyone knows that the weight gain equation is this:
Calories In - Calories Out = Your Weight.
In other words, you need to burn more calories through physical activity than the calories that you consume from your foods and beverages. Do whatever physical activity you can and as much as you can to help stave off the extra pounds during the holidays. You can even break up your physical activity into chunks throughout the day - i.e. 20 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, 30 in the evening, etc. Try to aim for 45-60 minutes of physical activity, 3-5 times during the week.
Tip #3 - To help reduce the food cravings and to stimulate your metabolism- aim to eat 5-6 small meals every 3-4 hours. Instead of 3 large meals with 1-2 small snacks in between, eat 5-6 small meals during the day. Make sure that every meal/snack consists of a Complex Carbohydrate + Lean Protein + Healthy Fat. This meal combo is the key to keeping your glycemic levels stable throughout the day, thus preventing you from craving unhealthy food, stimulating your metabolism, giving your that extra boost of energy you need to get you through the day and to keep you from gaining unnecessary weight.
Tip #4 - Hydration. Stay well hydrated by drinking at least 64 oz of water or other decaf beverages a day. If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice of lemon or cucumber to boost the flavor. Or try decaf herbal teas, either hot or on ice. Sweeten with all natural sweeteners life Stevia or Truvia - these are non-glycemic sweeteners that wont have you craving carbs throughout the day.
Tip #5 - Before you head out to your holiday party, try to eat a protein rich snack about an hour before you get there. This will help you feel satisfied while there and hopefully help prevent you from bingeing on all of the high calorie snacks and appetizers being served. If you are hungry, try to snack on veggies or low fat cheeses but be mindful of your portions to avoid eating too many calories before the main meal is even served.
OK - I think I have given you enough tips to help you prevent gaining the dreaded holiday weight. Have a wonderful Holiday Season and enjoy the company of those around you. Be healthy...