The holidays seem to go inevitably with eating and packing on a few pounds. This doesn’t have to be the case if you follow a few very simple rules.

Food should be pleasurable, but for many of us, the “stop” mechanism is broken. What’s wrong with a little cream puff or Swedish meatball? Nothing in itself. But can you stop at just one? I know that is extremely difficult for me and I suspect it may be for many of you.

If that’s the case, read on. Here are a few ways to keep off that “traditional” holiday five pounds:

1.     Eat before you go.  Have a salad or better yet, some soup, to fill you up before you’re faced with temptation.

2.    2.  Bring your own.  What hostess would reject your offering of a beautifully prepared veggie or fruit tray? It’s a sneaky way to get yourself something healthy and keep you away from the high-calorie goodies.

3.     Avoid the cheese and crackers (and the potatoes and gravy). At parties and dinners, skip the highest calorie and fat foods. Fill your plate with turkey and some veggies and enjoy the party!

4.     4. Drink club soda. Alcoholic beverages can be very fattening, especially eggnog and other sweet drinks.  Be satisfied with one glass of dry wine and then switch to club soda for the rest of the evening. You’ll feel and look better in the morning, since excessive alcohol intake also promotes wrinkly skin.

5.     Indulge: Eat just one. By yourself. It’s the holidays, right?  OK—Have just one. Put it on a plate and walk over to the corner by yourself. Conversation tends to foster mindless overconsumption. Enjoy your treat. Savor every morsel and be satisfied. Then re-join the party.

6.     6. Stay away from the buffet table. I mean stay as far away physically and you can get and still be part of the party. That will quell the temptation.

7.     7. Use tapping to stop cravings. If you’re not familiar with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), go to http://www.thetapping and learn the basic technique. It’s a combination of acupressure and affirmation that shifts cravings and other physiological and emotional challenges (includes destructive self-talk) quickly. 

8.    8.  Skip the hors d’oeuvres. At dinner parties, quietly abstain from those high-fat, high-calorie appetizers and enjoy your pre-dinner glass of wine or club soda. You can even a cheat a little by putting a few things on your plate and then ignoring them as you become engrossed in the conversation.

9.   9.  Pick yourself up and get back on the horse. If you slip and overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. Recriminations are the biggest diet saboteurs, so don’t indulge in them. Get back on your healthy eating plan the very next day. Don’t wait until the holidays are over. The damage will be far less.

10.  10. Don’t punish yourself. The goes hand-in-hand with #9: If you go overboard, don’t try to survive on carrots and water the next day. That will just spark more cravings feelings of guilt and urges for stealth eating. Get back on a sensible eating plan, make some broth-based veggie soup, eat a salad for lunch and affirm that, yes, you can control your eating and keep your weight at the right levels for your entire life.  

Kathleen Barnes is a natural health writer and health advocate. She has recently shed 100 pounds of unwanted fat on the HCG Diet. Learn more from her latest book, The Super Simple HCG Diet.