The holidays mean celebrations, get-togethers and parties, which often include festivities and - of course - food.
Unfortunately, too many people use these often joyous events to stuff themselves with sweets, cookies and other high caloric staples.
Health care professionals say there are some simple steps to take to avoid over-indulging.
Dr. William Cochran, left, is a Geisinger Medical Center pediatric gastroenterologist and nutritionist.
"I think some key recommendations are definitely portion control," said Susan Browning, a registered dietitian and director of community health and benefit at Susquehanna Health. "There are a lot of foods available this time of year that prompt people to want to eat."
Preparing to go to an event where there's sure to be heaping doses of food rich in carbohydrates or sugar?
Eat just a little bit beforehand so as not to over-do it at the party, Browning recommended.
Many people see the holidays as an excuse for eating to their heart's content, but having a plan can go a long way toward avoiding gluttony.
"You can do a walk-through at a buffet," Browning said. "Decide beforehand what you shouldn't eat or what you can take a little bit of."
Taking a seat far from the buffet table isn't a bad idea either.
"It will make you think twice about making that long walk to the buffet table," she said.
Dr. William Cochran, a Geisinger Medical Center pediatric gastroenterologist and nutritionist, suggested when preparing big food spreads, don't put everything on the table at once.
"If you don't see it, it can be easier to avoid," he said.
Cochran has a special interest in helping children eat healthier.
Childhood obesity rates are soaring, thanks in part to sedentary lifestyles, but also to the many tasty, high calorie foods available to so many kids, he noted.
Overweight children are much more susceptible to health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, even depression and low esteem.
"If you are overweight as a child, your risk of being overweight as adult is greater," he said.
Cochran and Browning know quite well the obstacles in preventing kids and adults from eating too much, especially during the holidays.
For many people, it's all but unavoidable to eat a little bit too much at this time of year.
And if you can't help yourself?
"You can cut back (eating) the next day or two," Browning said. "Exercise a little more."
For those so inclined, the holidays can be a good time to launch that New Year's resolution to eat healthier.
"It's a good time to get a jump on it," she said "Always make sure your resolutions are realistic, and don't expect perfection."
Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol or soda, which only adds to the caloric intake.
"Soda is like liquid candy," Browning said. "There are lot of empty calories in soda. Calories in sodas are not as easily recognized by the body. Some of these specialty coffee drinks are loaded with fat and calories, and alcoholic drinks as well, which can be more frequently available this time of year."
Cochran noted that a 12-ounce can of soda is packed with about 150 calories.
"About 20 percent of kids who are obese are that way because they drink too many sodas," he said. "The average adolescent is drinking three or four a day."