family eating holiday dinner

The holidays are here, and many of us will indulge in festive treats more than we should. On average, Americans gain between 1 and 2 pounds over the holidays.

To help you avoid being another statistic, we have some tips from UC Davis Health dietitians.

1. Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating can keep you from overeating while allowing you to really enjoy each part of the meal. Be mindful of those hunger cues. Eat slowly and savor each bite. This is a great tip to try year-round, not just during the holidays.

Check out this beginner's guide to mindful eating

2. Control your portions

Portion control is key to enjoying holiday foods without feeling deprived. A smaller plate can help because you can only put so much food or snacks on it.

3. Fill up on foods full of fiber

Fiber-rich foods such as beans, berries, whole grains, and dried fruits, to help satisfy hunger with fewer calories.

Check out healthy ways to modify holiday recipes

4. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Stick to the recommended three meals a day, instead of saving all your eating for one time. When you skip a meal earlier in the day, you are more likely to overeat at dinner.

Why is breakfast important? Read on to learn more about your first meal of the day

5. Keep a normal exercise routine

Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day during the holiday season (and all year). A brisk walk after a holiday dinner is a great way to involve your family and friends to help everyone feel healthier. Or, if you’re walking alone, use the time to call people you haven't been able to see. Be an example and get the kids involved in exercise. This helps support healthy habits at a young age.

Learn how much physical activity adults should get

6. Don't deprive yourself of all treats

It’s OK to enjoy a sweet treat each day while also choosing healthier snacks. This is a great way to have balance and not fill up on empty calories.

7. Add other healthy snacks along the way

Keep a bag of fruit and vegetables with cheese, yogurt, or hummus available for a snack. Or make a large salad with a colorful assortment of favorite fruits and vegetables. This may allow you to feel less guilty when you go all-in on the holiday dishes.

**Recipe ideas: Appetizers can include vegetable strips with a low-fat dip. Or serve baguette rounds topped with a light spread such as hummus and basil, chopped chicken, or salmon. Veggie roll-ups can be served using a thin pastry such as rice paper. Fill them with low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, and fresh vegetables.

Check out these 6 nutrition tips we can all use

8. Put away the leftovers

When everyone is done eating, put away the leftovers. This prevents you and others from mindlessly snacking just because there’s food on the counter.

9. Think twice about your holiday beverage

Many holiday beverages, like eggnog, punch, wine, mixed drinks, and ciders, are high in calories. Toast with a holiday-themed drink or have a small glass of wine with dinner. Then switch to water or beverages with less sugar or fewer calories.

Learn why it’s important for you to drink water and stay hydrated

10. Try to get quality sleep

The holiday season is a busy time of year but try to get as much solid sleep as you can. Everything is more manageable when you're rested. Plan to wind down for the night about 30 minutes before you go to bed. You'll fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly. Quality of sleep is linked with how much and how often we eat.

Read more: 8 tips to help keep your heart healthy over the holidays

Read more: 8 easy tips for healthy holiday eating

Check out these healthy and delicious recipes from our Good Food As Good Medicine blog