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Don't ban your favorites. "Decide which special foods you really want and enjoy them, but skip the rest," says Daelemans. So if you love eggnog, have a glass, but if you could take or leave gingerbread-man cookies, don't waste your calories on them.

Make water your best friend. Tallmadge recommends not drinking on an empty stomach and having two glasses of water for every glass of wine. "You want to sip and savor your wine, and grab and gulp your water," she says.

Keep in-between meals low-calorie. Balance out party splurges with über-healthy choices at other meals and on other days of the week, says Daelemans. Make green salads with low-fat dressing for lunch and pick lean meats (like chicken or pork) or broth-based or bean soups for dinner.

Oops, I Ate It Again! Whether you're whipping up a batch of cookies or making frosting, it's hard not to sample here and there. "But you can end up eating a whole dinner's worth of calories before you even sit down," says Tallmadge.

To avoid accidental eating, try these tricks:

  • Brush your teeth right before to discourage mindless nibbling while cooking or baking. "You won't be as tempted to sample foods when your breath tastes like peppermint," says Newgent.
  • Eat a small snack, like a cup of yogurt, 20 minutes before you start cooking, says Newgent. This will send a signal to your brain that you're already satisfied.
  • Make deals with yourself. "Recently I baked cookies with my nieces," says Daelemans. "If we ate one scoop of dough, we allowed ourselves two baked cookies. If we ate two scoops of dough, we were allowed only one baked cookie."
  • Wear bleaching strips on your teeth. "You won't want or be able to nibble when your teeth are otherwise occupied," says Newgent.

How bad can a bite be?

  • Having two spoonfuls of chocolate-chip cookie dough: 64 calories, 3 grams of fat
  • Eating leftover pie scraps: 81 calories, 5 grams of fat
  • Licking whipped cream off the beaters: 52 calories, 5 grams of fat
  • Picking just one slice of cheese from the platter: 113 calories, 9 grams of fat
  • Grabbing a handful of mixed nuts from the bowl: 168 calories, 15 grams of fat

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