It's the holiday season. For some, it's a magical time of year. For others, it's an annual challenge to fit into the same clothes. Weight gain is a real concern during holidays. I'll let you in on a little secret: eating until you burst on Thanksgiving is not the problem. Eating anything we want every regular day is.

What we tend to do when faced with a string of food-related holidays is let our everyday eating get off-track. We succumb to the daily temptations all around us, saying we'll start fresh in January. That's the real problem. The good news is you can keep yourself on track, starting right this very minute. Make sure your everyday eating is good, and you can indulge a little on an actual holiday with no regrets.

Set a goal. This time of year, it's a big win to simply maintain your weight, so consider starting with that.

Ramp up your accountability. Keep a food diary for a few days. You may think you know everything you eat; I'll bet you don't. Writing it down is like looking in a mirror: you'll see a clear picture of what's really going on.

Use the buddy system to help keep you on track. Plan regular check-ins with a like-minded friend. Use the time to review your food diary or just talk through how you've been eating. If you're doing a lot of baking, do it together and make a pact to not lick every bowl or eat every broken cookie.

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Understand that every time you eat, you're making a decision. So when you're tempted by Aunt Martha's eggnog or Uncle Lou's sausage stuffing, ask yourself: Do I really want to eat this, or do I want to reach my goal? As long as more often than not, the answer is "reach my goal" you'll be in good shape.

It's easy to fall into the mindset of "I've eaten so much already that it doesn't matter. I'll just get back on track in January." As I tell my clients, use your very next opportunity to get back on track. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you'll make it happen.

Enjoy those splurges that truly are once a year. I make brown sugar bacon every Christmas morning. It's something my family loves, and I do too. It'll go next to a big bowl of roasted fruit and a veggie-packed frittata. I'll savor every bite and look forward to the next time I'll have it, just about a year from now.

Know when you'll attend events that may challenge you, and be prepared for them. This means eating really healthfully leading up to the event and afterward and enjoying only those small treats that are really worth it.

Make sure you eat a healthy snack before a party so that you're not starving when they bring out the food. Good choices include yogurt and fruit or an apple with peanut butter. Something with a little protein will help keep you satisfied and you won't be tempted to eat your way through the buffet.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Have plenty of water so that you're not drinking that glass of wine to quench your thirst. My favorite drink is a glass of sparkling wine; the bubbles make it feel special. Here are some other great choices to enjoy:

Sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and a slice of lime

Vodka or gin & club soda

Small glass of wine

Bloody Mary

Screwdriver

Don't forget the nibbles. Be mindful of what you're eating, because bites here and there can really add up. Some good choices include:

Shrimp cocktail

Cut veggies & hummus

Seared tuna

Grilled chicken satay

Olives

Employ sneaky strategies, like: Offer to bring a healthier dish to someone's home. There will be plenty of non-healthy foods available, and everyone is grateful when there's something they don't have to feel bad about eating. Try a big fruit salad or a colorful display of cut veggies with store-bought hummus.

Make it easy. This time of year, I really appreciate having quick, healthy lunch and dinner options. My secret is to stock my refrigerator and freezer with healthy prepared foods from the store. When I'm out to dinner, I'll order an extra entree to eat later in the week. If it's available and on-hand, it's easy to eat healthy.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Visualize waking up on Jan. 1. How would you like to feel? My guess is your answer is something like "Energetic, healthy, good," not "Bloated, overweight, exhausted." Keep that visualization in mind as you make decisions on what you'll eat and what you'll skip.

Lisa Corrado makes busy people healthier by combining clinical nutrition with culinary training. Contact Lisa at 203-972-3447 or Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com. Visit her website at www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com.