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Love it or leave it. "If you don't love it, don't eat it," says Zelman. "If one bite is not knocking your socks off, put it down."

Think small. You don't need that entire wedge of marble cheesecake. Learn to savor small tastes of these wonderful treats. What you don't eat won't hurt you.

Sense satisfaction. Push away from the table before you're bursting at the seams. Move away from the buffet line. "If you stand there, you will eat," Zelman says. "It's unconscious eating. It's not about hunger. You won't even remember what you've eaten."

Make potlucks less tempting. Bring something that you can eat in large portions- chilled shrimp, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and low-fat dip, or wild rice. If you bring dessert, make it pumpkin pie instead of pecan.

Lighten the drinks. Alcohol is laden with calories; creamy drinks are, too. Treat friends to a pitcher of sangria or lower-fat eggnog. Use low-fat milk instead of cream in White Russians.

Go 80-20. For the holidays or anytime, Zelman's health philosophy is "the 80-20 approach." She explains: "Eighty percent of the time, you follow your healthy lifestyle, exercising and eating properly. But 20% of the time, most often the weekends and holidays, you can lighten up, not be so tough on yourself. As long as you have an 80-20 balance, you won't gain weight-and you will have more fun."

This way, you have no need to fear the party buffets. Enjoy holiday goodies, continue to get some exercise, and you should sail through the season and into the New Year without feeling deprived - and without extra weight.

Smart Choices at the Buffet Table

Instead of...Choose...
Pigs in blanketMelon wrapped in prosciutto
Stuffing with brown gravyBrown or wild rice
Salami and cheeseCrudités, fresh fruit, and dip
Fried wingsShrimp cocktail or smoked salmon
Green bean casseroleSteamed veggies with citrus zest
Prime ribTurkey breast
CheesecakePumpkin pie with low-calorie topping
FudgeChocolate-dipped strawberries
Hot chocolate with whipped creamSkinny latté with dusting of cocoa

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