If you want to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, it's a good idea to identify ahead of time those situations in which you're most likely to overeat -- and to be prepared with strategies for dealing with those temptations.

Holiday parties with a buffet pose a particular threat to the calorie-conscious. Here are some ways to enjoy a lush spread of fine food and drink without packing in the calories.

  • Pay attention to what you drink. You could save yourself hundreds of calories if you choose water or diet soda instead of beer, wine, mixed drinks, eggnog, punch and other beverages.
  • Don't deny yourself tempting foods; instead, take just small portions of them. For example, you could take a small scoop of potatoes au gratin (baked in cheese and cream), but fill your plate with a large portion of broiled fish.
  • Minimize extras that add calories. If you have bread, skip the butter. If you have salad, drizzle only a small amount of dressing on it.
  • Don't socialize near the food table. If you linger, you'­ll be more likely to eat absent-mindedly.