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2. Never go to a party hungry

"Fruits and vegetables are where we need to get our carbohydrates, and not from alcohol and brownies," says Jule Anne Henstenberg, RD, director of the nutrition program at La Salle University. "Use high-fiber fruits and vegetables to fill up before a party." Eat a bunch of baby carrots, a big salad, or an apple, for example, to curb your desire for empty party-food calories.

"When we eat outside the home, studies suggest that we may take in 40% more calories than we would otherwise," says Cheskin. "We even have seen this finding replicated in animal models."

So much of our eating is not related to hunger, he says. The more variety of foods available at a meal, the more likely you are to eat more food.

"The stress of a social setting and an environment with many food choices and alcohol will tend to foster overeating," Cheskin says. "So these are good times to be on guard."

3. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is loaded with calories. And since "many holiday celebrations involve drinking, it's easy to take in a lot of calories without being aware that you are," says Scott Isaacs, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at Emory University and medical director at Intelligent Health Center. "Drink a glass of water or a diet soda before and after each alcoholic beverage to help pace yourself and to dilute calories," says Isaacs, who is also the author of Hormonal Balance: Understanding Hormones, Weight and Your Metabolism.

4. Practice calorie damage control

"If you do overeat, don't 'fall off the wagon.'" says Isaacs. "Make up for it by cutting your calories for a few days and adding extra exercise."

And get exercise in anywhere you can, says Giannetto. Take a brisk walk on your lunch break and after dinner. At work, use stairs rather than the elevator.

"When you get just 100 fewer calories per day through dieting and exercise or both, that is the equivalent of 10 pounds per year."

5. Remember to have fun

"The main reason you're at a party is to see people and celebrate, not to eat a lot of high-calorie foods," says Cheskin. "So be aware of why you're there and make that your focus."

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