It's the festive season and that means everywhere you go, you're likely to encounter food – at your office party, at friends' houses and, of course, at the traditionally heavy Christmas lunch. People ply guests with tempting trays of goodies, and immoderation seems to take over when we're faced with fruit cake, pap and vleis , chakalaka, mince pies and succulent roast turkey.

The trouble is, most of this food is unhealthy and loaded with fat and sugar. As a result, it bypasses your digestive system entirely and deposits itself directly on your waistline, hips and thighs.

Remember that food is there for enjoyment, not indulgence. With that focus in your mind, it helps you exercise some self-discipline.

When you have been invited to a place where you have no control over what's in the food, it really helps to pile your plate with fruit and vegetable dishes, and avoid the fatty stuff.

Dieticians Suna Kassier and Shirley Norman say there's a lot you can do to avoid putting on weight while still enjoying your food. It's all about moderation and a balanced approach.

"Think twice before having that extra helping or extra drink," cautions Kassier. "Over-indulgence makes you feel sluggish, which is likely to ripple out towards ditching your exercise regime and other healthy lifestyle habits you've worked so hard to acquire throughout the year."

She adds that portion control is the way to go. "When ordering off a menu, ask how large the portions are," she advises. "Order a starter as a main course, or share your main course with your dining companions. Alternatively, divide it before you start eating and take the other half home in a doggy bag, to be enjoyed the next day."

Eating smaller portions will also allow you to enjoy your favourites without piling on the kilos. In fact, eating a smaller portion of something you enjoy can often be a lot less fattening than depriving yourself of it completely, and then bingeing on chocolate afterwards because you feel deprived!