Let’s face it; getting and keeping your weight under control is hard enough most days of the year. But coping with holiday stress, along with all the high-calorie celebrating, makes it especially difficult to avoid unwanted pounds during the winter holiday season.

Just when you think you’re finally getting your weight under control, Bingo! It’s the holidays, and food is literally everywhere. From the office to the factory, from the office supply store to the drugstore (not to mention parties and family events galore), it seems as if the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s holiday season is one long, tempting food fest designed to make you gain weight.

Research shows, when it comes to successful weight loss, our emotions and our thoughts seem to actually play a bigger role than environmental cues — we eat in response to feelings — and for many people, the holidays can drum up a whole treasure chest of feelings, both good and bad. 

Even worse, studies show that people whose overeating is triggered by emotions tend to have a harder time losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

Control portions, the more we put on our plates, the more we will eat  – even if we don’t particularly like what we’re eating! Keep your portions small, especially with calorie-heavy foods like gravy, eggnog, and desserts. 

Stay hydrated. For every glass of champagne, drink a glass of water. Drink more water before reaching for more food and bring your own water bottle to holiday functions.

Keep moving. Exercise is even more important for maintaining weight loss than for taking off the pounds in the first place. Exercise is essential in helping you cope with stress. Further, getting regular activity can actually give you more energy to tackle that long holiday “to-do” list. Do whatever you can to squeeze in 10-minute intervals of activity throughout the day.

Learn to say no. If you think you can just go into the party and wing it, or worse still, believe you can simply avoid the buffet table, it’s almost a sure thing you’re going to lose control and eat everything in sight. 

Politely refuse food temptations; eventually you will develop confidence and personal resolve. You don’t have to become a holiday food police, but you do have to be firm and true to yourself and show gratitude and respectful those who mean well.