As part of its mission to provide ongoing value to the community, Bankwell in New Canaan hosted a seminar Nov. 20 featuring local resident and nutritionist Barbara Schmidt, who spoke on the topic of "Surviving the Season of Feasting." The seminar took place at the bank's Elm Street branch.

"Food is an important part of the holiday celebration," said Schmidt. "The trick is to be prepared and to avoid the anxiety that comes from trying to diet while simultaneously trying to enjoy the special time of the year." She offered the following tips for combatting the social pressure and temptation that often accompany holiday events:

Never arrive at a holiday function ravenous. Plan ahead by having a light snack before you attend a holiday party and pace yourself when you get there. Treat yourself to special foods, and don't waste calories on everyday foods like chips and dip.

Focus on weight maintenance as opposed to weight loss during the holidays. This is not the time to lose weight. Maintaining your current weight is a big enough challenge during the holiday season. Don't set yourself up for failure by expecting to lose weight at this time.

Be physically active every day. Often busy holiday schedules (or lack of structured schedules) bump people off their exercise routines. Exercise, especially aerobic, can help relieve stress and burn extra calories. Try to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week, even if it's taking a brisk walk.

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Don't go immediately back for seconds. It takes at least 20 minutes for you to feel full following a meal, so take your time eating and resist going back for more until you've finished your meal. Taking sips of water throughout your meal will help you feel full.

Schmidt leads the Transformations Weight Loss Program at Norwalk Hospital, where she consults with patients privately and in group settings.

She also offers private consultation and medical nutrition therapy for individuals with diabetes, heart disease, IBS and those who would like to lose weight or just eat healthier.