How to avoid overindulging during the holidays

Monday will mark only a week until Christmas. It will be a prime period for holiday parties, all leading up to a long weekend of celebrating, as Christmas falls on a Monday this year.

It also likely will be a week of dealing with all the extra food and sweets that will be available for the holidays and beyond.

Really, the high-calorie minefield started before Thanksgiving. The typical American, after all, can gain from 3 to 7 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s, according to the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin.

But most seem to rein in the holiday excess just after Jan. 1, with a New Year’s resolution to go forth and munch no more.

Yet there are steps that can be taken now to mitigate the damage that might be done during the holiday period, the Marshfield Clinic advises.

Its tips include:

— Don’t skip meals. Before heading to a party or shopping, eat a light snack such as raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite;

— Survey buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Keep your plate balanced and make sure half your plate is fruits and vegetables.

— Eat until satisfied, not stuffed.

— Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.

— Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lesson inhibitions and induce cravings. Non-alcoholic beverages can be loaded with sugar and calories and will not fill you up.

— If you do overeat at one meal, go light on the next. Increase servings of fruits and vegetables to stay satisfied while keeping your calories low.

— Plan time to exercise, which relieves holiday stress and prevent extra weight gain.

— Take the focus off food. Turn candy- and cookie-making time into a non-edible project, such as making a wreath, dough art or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t about food.

— Practice healthy holiday cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating, such as making a crustless pumpkin pie.