With the holidays upon us, one of the ways many of us will be celebrating is by indulging in the high fat/high calorie foods that seem to define the season.

Big dinners, cocktail parties, cookie exchanges, candy canes, chocolate, celebratory lunches and happy hours fill our days and nights during the final weeks of the year. Many of these foods signify that the holidays are here and, of course, we’ll want to indulge in all of the special foods and sweet treats that surround us. For some, certain foods bring us right back to the comfortable place where we originally feasted on them. For others, it’s simply an excuse to put our healthy eating aside until the New Year.

If this is your game plan, you may just enter the New Year with the “gift” of an extra few pounds by the New Year. Since larger clothes are probably not on your wish list, how can you enjoy the holiday season guilt free?

You’ve heard the saying “If you fail to plan then plan to fail.” That’s certainly the case when it comes to holiday indulging. There are ways to include those special foods and treats in your holiday eating as long as you have a strategy. Since you may be headed to a few holiday parties, here’s a game plan you can use.

1) Never arrive hungry. Over hungry means overeating so a small snack before you go can ensure that your judgment stays intact and you’ll make better decisions once confronted with all of the holiday goodies. For example, an apple or container of yogurt can spare you from overindulging in thousands of calories of hors d’oeuvres.

2) Pre-plan the number of drinks you’ll have and stick to it. These are liquid calories which go down quickly and easily so choose wisely. For hard liquor, keep it to a drink or two, alternating with glasses of water. For wine, use the same idea or switch to wine spritzers to cut the calories in half. There’s also the option to drink seltzer, which looks like a "real" drink so no one will question you, if that’s a concern. Finally, try envisioning each drink as a chocolate milkshake. Pictured this way, you may want to reconsider having more than one!

3) Keep your hands busy. You can hold your drink in one hand and have a plate of vegetables in the other. You also may want to try the “clutch trick," purposely bringing a clutch bag as opposed to one with a strap. This ties up the hand that could be grabbing unhealthy appetizers! Of course, you may want to enjoy some of those appetizers, so if that’s your plan, limit yourself to a few of the most delicious looking ones and enjoy them thoroughly. Give yourself permission to savor them so that each bite isn’t eaten with a side of guilt. Also, when you’ve given yourself permission to eat a set amount (let’s say three or four), you’re much less likely to binge later on because you feel good about keeping with your plan.

4) Be Selective. For example, let’s say for Christmas dinner there’s a delicious looking stuffing on the table that you want to try along with other types of breads and rolls. Since a rolls are something you have on any regular night out, skip them to allow for a taste of that special stuffing. By having what’s unique for the holiday, you’ll feel a part of it without “stuffing” yourself!

Finally, if you’ve overdone it, apply the three to one rule. That means, for every one thing you’ve overindulged in, make the next three choices healthier and better balanced. For example, a meal that’s over the top needs to be balanced with three moderate meals. A food choice that’s high in calories and fat can be balanced with three more healthful options.

With a plan, you can enjoy the holidays without the “leftovers” on your belly, hips and thighs. By putting some strategies into place now, you can have a New Year's Resolution that’s different from the millions of other women who will be making a pledge to lose the excess weight that they collected over the holiday season!

Author's Bio: 

Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach® is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's degree in Nutrition Science. She's a Certified Personal Trainer, Whole Health Coach, Lifestyle Expert - just for moms, speaker and the author of The Lifestyle Fitness Program: A Six Part Plan So Every Mom Can Look, Feel and Live Her Best (recommended by Parenting Magazine). Debi’s been branded The Mojo Coach® because for nearly 20 years she’s motivated overweight, overwhelmed and unfit moms to “get their mojo back” through gradual, lifestyle change. Sign up for a free report, 52 weeks of weekly tips and a subscription to Debi’s newsletter Mojo Moments at www.TheMojoCoach.com.