The days between Halloween and New Year’s Eve are dangerous territory for your waistline. Here are 5 ways to avoid holiday weight gain: 

  • First: Write down everything you eat. Keeping a food journal helps counter a lot of the mental traps that make us underestimate calories. For example, studies show that we eat more after seeing pictures of people exercising. And, we’re more likely to order French fries when there’s a salad on the menu. That’s because seeing healthy images makes you think you’ve reached your goal, while a food diary keeps the focus on your real progress.

  • Next: Avoid big parties, because the larger the crowd, the more we tend to eat. One study found that having 8 people at the same table DOUBLES the number of calories each person consumes.

  • The 3rd way to avoid holiday weight gain: Hang with your healthy friends. Harvard University weight loss experts say that we tend to share waistlines with the people we spend the most time with. In other words, hanging with someone who says, “Let’s go to the gym,” is better for your weight than meeting the friend who says things like, “Let’s grab a cupcake.”

  • The next tip: Invite a single man to Thanksgiving dinner. Researchers at McMasters University found that women eat significantly less when they dine with a man, provided she isn’t married to him. That’s because we’re trying to make a good impression.

  • Finally: The less TV the better - especially on Halloween. Yale University researchers found that watching snack commercials made people eat more of whatever they had on hand. And that can be particularly dangerous when you have a lot of ‘snack-sized’ candy at your fingertips, because a European study found that we eat twice as much when food is packaged in small portions.