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Ready to kickoff the holiday party season? The next couple months will be jam-packed with festivities and fun, not to mention a few healthy-eating obstacles. To keep from overindulging, it’s best to walk into a party with a game plan. Here are some strategies to keep your diet on track:

Make a choice

Would you rather look hot at the next holiday party or go to town at the buffet table? Use the season’s festivities as motivation to look great in your party attire. Avoid waistline-busting party foods such as fried hors d’oeuvres and fattening chips and dips. Instead, gravitate toward filling, low-calorie options like crudités and shrimp, suggests Susan Burke March, R.D., the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally. Making healthy choices is an automatic confidence booster, so you’ll look and feel better–and rock your little black dress.

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Eat beforehand

Just because you know your friend made her famous dish doesn’t mean you should starve yourself in preparation–in fact, you should eat in preparation. March suggests having a snack, such as nonfat yogurt or a piece of fruit, before you go out. You’re less likely to overeat or make unhealthy food choices at a holiday party if you’ve taken the edge off your appetite beforehand.

Learn to say “no”

The best way to avoid fattening party foods is to put a healthy eating plan in place prior to the event. A good host will want to make sure you’re enjoying yourself and partaking in the fare. When offered an option that isn’t diet friendly, March recommends saying: “Thanks, but I’m really thirsty right now. Maybe I’ll try one later.” Then head to the bar and grab a low-cal cocktail such as a wine spritzer or light beer.

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