If there is one moment when the toughest dietary regimes come under pressure they cannot sustain it is the holiday season. For these couple of days around Christmas, temptations are just too overwhelming, both in number and quality, for people not to let their indulgences take the better of them. The result is plain to see. Enlarged waistlines, considerable weight gain, furtive glances at mirrors and shop windows in search of bodily excess. These are unwanted effects of quite a frequent Christmas pastime – overeating, and their important characteristic is that they are quite a challenge to undo. But nothing is impossible if you have a good strategy.

Losing weight is not an all-or-nothing discipline, so it helps to set smaller, more realistic goals, rather than throw yourself into resolutions you may find impossible to deliver on. Incremental losses are not only easier to achieve, not only serve as motivating reference points, but are also easier to sustain or defend. Revolutions are costly – that is why you are usually better off leaving a little bit of madness you love so much. If you cancel every splurge you can feel totally deprived, while letting an occasional indulgence play itself out should not ruin your overall program. And it can help you resist a pull to give up altogether due to too many limitations.

To get back to top form, you have to use your intellect. It is a much wise decision to eat more often, but going for smaller, lighter portions. This eating habit does not only limit your craving for food, but also provides you with regular boosts of energy that you need throughout the day. It has a positive role in stimulating your mood. Also, as it keeps your digestive system going, it consumes more calories. Another smart sacrifice anyone can do is introducing healthy substitutes into your diet. An apple or a banana as a mid-day smack instead of a pack of chips or a candy bar is a no-brainer. But there are tens of products we do not normally pay attention to in shops. Why not go for fried fruit or nuts instead of candy? Why not nutritious and original pita bread for carbohydrate-filled white bread? A couple of choices like that could energize your diet without making it unsustainable due to drastic cut downs.

Another simple trick to play is holding back when a desire to have something strikes. 10 minutes may look like forever at first, but with a little training, you can learn to wait this long before having more than you need. Scientists have proved that it is enough for the strongest craving to go away, making space for more rational decisions. The same applies to shopping decisions – before you buy this fantastic mini mouse you see, step back, let time pass and return to see if it is still a necessary expense. Also, you can make other adjustments – for example, never eating the entire portion in a restaurant – sparing a third or a quarter for another meal and cutting calorie load this way.