(www.BlackDoctor.org) -- Sticking to a diet can be tough. Period. But when a special occasion rolls around? It can feel nearly impossible. Why should you have to be so good while everyone else is having fun?
Occasional missteps don't have to turn into diet failure, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. Whether you enjoyed that extra bite or said "Yes, please!" to a rich dessert, using the following tips can help keep resolutions on track:
1. Forgive yourself, and move on. Accept that you will have setbacks. No one is perfect.
2. After a splurge, don't punish yourself by avoiding your favorite food or skipping meals. These perceived "solutions" are more likely to fuel your craving and lead to more overeating.
3. Stay focused on the basics: healthy foods and smart portion sizes. If you indulge in a rich dinner one evening, plan on a low-calorie meal for the next day.
4. Learn from experience. Reflect on what triggered overeating, and come up with creative ways to anticipate your temptations. If stress is a trigger, call a friend instead of opening a bag of chips. If your downfall is the larger portions often served at restaurants, ask for a box at the beginning of the meal, and save half for tomorrow's lunch.
5. If certain foods are simply irresistible, find a sensible way of incorporating them into your healthy-eating plan. Avoiding them completely can increase your craving and trigger a binge-eating episode.
6. Think about enjoying your "problem food" in a safe setting -- for example, if sweets are tempting, don't bake cookies when you're home alone. In contrast, if you're going to a birthday party, plan ahead on enjoying a small serving of cake.
7. Celebrating your success, no matter how small, can help you avoid setbacks. Reward yourself with something unrelated to food when you've stayed on track from several weeks in a row. Taking time to notice your successes will help you build your confidence to recover from future mistakes.