Mid-December sees the start of the party season (or, if you move in media circles, the continuation of the party season). It's at this very special time of year that many rational human beings abandon all thoughts of coherent nutrition and exist instead on a diet of alcohol, vol-aux-vents, salsa dips, canapes and sausage rolls. It sounds like a deadly combination, but you can help to avoid the risk of a premature festive heart attack if you follow these ten simple steps.
1) Don't go to a party on an empty stomach. If your gut is already full of something bulky like toad-in-the-hole or pizza before you arrive, you won't feel like topping it up with tiny mini versions of the same food.
2) Mingle. Never sit or stand in the same place for too long at a party, otherwise you run the risk of polishing off that nearby large bowl of olives all by yourself.
3) Go vegetarian. Vegetarians rarely risk eating the food at parties because they can never be 100% certain whether that breadcrumbed globe contains cheese or chicken - not until it's too late, anyway.
4) Have another drink. It's strange how shovelling fat-soaked pastries into your mouth feels wholly guilt-free when you're rat-arsed.
5) Always eat five portions of vegetables every day. Three celery sticks, a carrot baton and a lettuce leaf should be enough. Just don't ruin the effect by dipping them into something oily and calorific.
6) Don't start eating the peanuts. Peanuts are more addictive than crack cocaine. Just one nibble and you'll be compelled to finish the whole bagful. Keep clear.
7) Think how many third world children could be fed for the cost of that dainty melt-in-the-mouth filo tartlet you're eyeing up lasciviously. Probably a villageful.
8) Sign up for that January gym membership now. After all, these nibbles are nothing compared to the munchfest of turkey, pudding and chocolates that you're about to pour down your gullet over the next week.
9) Imagine that the mysterious breadcrumbed parcel you're about to put into your mouth is in fact from the set of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and contains either fish eyes or kangaroo gonads. Works every time.
10) Become an anti-social recluse. If you never get invited to parties in the first place, your waistline should be perfectly safe.