Most people believe the average amount of holiday weight gain is 5 pounds. In reality, the number is much lower. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average holiday weight gain among adults is less than one pound. Although you might not gain as much as you expect during your seasons get-togethers, you should still avoid unhealthy habits. Here are a few tips to avoid overeating this year:

Snack before the meal

People tend to either eat very little or not at all leading up to the holiday feast. This is probably in anticipation of consuming a lot of calories, but all this really does is lead to binge eating. You don't need to starve yourself before the gathering to stay healthy. What you should be doing is smart snacking. Nibbling on healthy snacks should be relatively easy. Someone probably brought a relish tray to the event, so make yourself a little plate of fresh veggies and crackers. Eating a little bit before the main meal will help curb your hunger and allow you to make smart decisions when the food is finally served.

A table full of appetizer trays. Snack on hor s d'oeuvres before the main meal to calm your growling stomach.

Use a smaller plate

Considering all of the different dishes that will be served during the holidays, you're going to have a lot of food to choose from. If you have a large plate, you'll be more likely to dish yourself too much food. To avoid this dilemma, use a smaller plate. You won't be able to fit as much onto the dish, which means you'll only have room for your favourite recipes.

Take your time

When faced with so many delicious foods, it can be easy to want to eat everything in sight as fast as possible. Instead of doing this, take your time and really savor your meal. In addition, talk to your loved ones in between bites. You won't be as focused on shoveling food from your plate, and you'll get the chance to enjoy everyone's company.

Wait to go back for seconds

When you clean your first plate of food, don't go back for seconds right away. Your brain hasn't had a chance to completely process how much you've eaten. Sit and chat with loved ones for 15 to 20 minutes before determining if you're still hungry enough for seconds. You also need to consider whether or not you have enough room for both seconds and dessert. It's easy to forget about the tasty baked goods, but you don't want to overeat before the pie and cookies are even served, so take your time.

A family sitting at the dinner table eating. Enjoy the company that surrounds you after your first serving before deciding if you want more to eat.

Say no to food pushers

Some hosts will serve you more food before you've even finished your first plate. It can be hard to evade these food pushers, but to eat healthy during the holidays you have to take a stand. Don't be afraid to say "No, thank you" to an offering of seconds or thirds if you don't need it. If you're afraid of being rude, then take small portions to begin with. This way, you won't eat very much of certain dishes and can ask for seconds for the ones you enjoyed the most.

Limit alcohol intake

If your family likes to bust out the wine or mixed drinks in the evening, avoid overindulging. You can easily do this by simply switching out a large goblet glass for a small piece of stemware. In addition, alternate your drinks with water. If you're worried about someone giving you a hard time for drinking water, then fill your cup with a sparkling grape juice or cider. Then people won't be able to tell you're drinking anything different.