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Fat-Proof Your Holidays

From holiday shopping stress to walking away from the buffet, we've got all the tips and tricks you need to know to make it through the season with your sanity and waistline intact. Consider this your guide to a happy, healthy holiday.

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'Tis the Season

To eat, drink, and try not to gain any weight. The constant carousel of cocktail parties, gift swapping, and eggnog drinking can be a great time to catch up with friends and family, but it's hard not to stress over all those calories you're popping in your mouth. To help you beat your body blues this holiday season, we tapped our experts for tips to help you keep your cool from Black Friday through the New Year.

Holiday Shopping Tips

If you're brave enough for a 3 a.m. wake-up call to power through the mall on Black Friday, you'll need to prep before you go. "Pack items in your purse like whole wheat crackers, baby carrots, nuts, and fruit," says Cynthia Pasquella, CCN, CHLC, CWC, and a celebrity nutritionist. "Eating snacks regularly will prevent you from crashing later and reaching for something sugary."'

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Take a Booster Break

"Stop every couple of hours when shopping," says Pasquella. "Eat a light snack with fiber, protein, and carbs to boost your energy and refuel." Bonus perk: Taking a break from shopping will also give you time to assess your purchases and decide which upcoming "sales" are still worth the trouble.

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Don't Shop 'Til You Drop

If you forget to give yourself a time out and find yourself suddenly crashing, sip on some water. "It's a quick fix that will curb sugar cravings until you get something healthy to eat," says Pasquella.

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Party Season Survival Tips

Cheesy dips, pigs in a blanket, bacon-wrapped scallops. We could go on for days torturing you with the most popular holiday finger foods. "Just remember that fried is basically synonymous with calories," warns Lisa Young, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition at NYU. In an appetizer crisis, steer clear of anything deep fried and crispy and instead choose something in a sauce that you can scrape off.

Make your holiday party diet-friendly with these healthy appetizer recipes

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Party (Food) Pregame

Cocktail parties are filled with dieting disasters, but the appetizers are often the most dangerous course, says Young. "All those bite-sized foods can add up fast. To avoid making a bad decision, eat before you eat! If you have a small snack at home, you can skip the appetizers and wait until the main course."

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Cruise Over to the Crudites

If you're going to nibble before dinner, Young recommends finding the crudites -- raw veggies like celery sticks, bell pepper strips, and broccoli. Just don't overdo it on the dipping sauce. Keep it plain or use just a dollop.

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Bust Out the LBD

A surefire way to avoid overeating? Whip out a sexy cocktail dress. "When you wear something slightly snug, you're more aware of what you're putting in your mouth," says Young.

Find the perfect dress for your shape

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Mingle More

"Don't make the party all about food," says Pasquella. "Catch up with old friends and meet new people. Once you strike up a conversation, you're less likely to walk away from it to go snack." Just make sure you're not socializing near the buffet. You're more apt to mindlessly munch as you chat.

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The Clutch Trick

Try this holiday party strategy from Pasquella: "Always make sure you carry a clutch instead of a purse you can swing over your shoulder. That will only leave you with one free hand, meaning you have to eat slower and can only consume a few finger foods at a time."

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The Dish on Dessert

"It's better to pick one thing you really want for dessert rather than a small sampling of everything," says Young. "It's more satisfying and will keep you from overeating."

Try these good-for-you holiday desserts

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Drink Up!

On water, that is. "Women eat because they think they're hungry, but really they are just dehydrated," says Young. Make sure to sip throughout the night and especially in between cocktails.

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Take a Lap

Don't just hop in that buffet line and start piling on the goods, walk around first, Young recommends. "Stock your plate with fruits and veggies first, and then fill the rest in."

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Sip Smart: Your Holiday Cocktail Guide

Monitor yourself and how festive you're feeling. According to Young, the recommended alcohol intake for a woman is one drink a day. (And no, you can't save up all those days you didn't drink for a Saturday night binge session.) If you're going to have a few, opt for a wine spritzer -- consider it the lesser of two evils.

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Cure Your Hangover

Got a little too merry last night? Pasquella says the quickest way to fix a hangover is pure coconut water and bananas. "Drink 8 to 10 glasses of coconut water and have three to five bananas to replenish lost electrolytes and rehydrate your body," she says. "Another not-so-common trick is to add two tablespoons of mustard powder to a bath and soak for 20 minutes. Mustard is a powerful detoxifier and also increases circulation to help you feel better faster."

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Fake It

Warning: This next tip may surprise you. "Just because everyone else is drinking doesn't mean you have to!" says Nancy Redd, author of Body Drama. "Have a glass of champagne and then refill it with diet ginger ale. This is my go-to trick every holiday party season."

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Beat the Holiday Body Blues

"The holidays are tough, especially around December, because you feel like you've got one more month to accomplish everything you wanted to for 2011," says Redd. "But you can't fast track body improvements." Instead of trying to lose those pesky 20 pounds in a month, fast track self-acceptance and give yourself a reality check. "Your lack of weight loss isn't a failure; it's just a shift in focus."

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Don't Crash

The holidays are not the time to crash diet. Redd says instead of splurging on an expensive juice craze, buy something to wear that fits and flatters your shape, regardless of whether you're happy with your weight.

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Eat with a Purpose

To stop stress eating, make every meal an experience. Use a pretty plate, sit at a clean table, and even light a candle to lift the mood if needed. "You'll eat less and feel more fulfilled," says Pasquella.

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Hit the Reset Button

When you feel like you've fallen off the healthy eating wagon, the easiest way to hop back on is to start with exercise. "It's easier to change your eating habits when you're moving more," says Redd. "The more active you are, the less likely you are to sit around and snack."

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Travel Tidbit: Skip the Airport Food

What is it about airports? They seem to know all your junk food weaknesses and have strategically placed them all in one confined food court for you to go wild in while you wait for your flight. "Airports -- and even planes -- are notorious for unhealthy foods, which is why you should pack your own snacks before you head out the door," recommends Pasquella. Also, try eating before you go! Don't wait until you're starving and surrounded by nothing but Cinnabon and Taco Bell.

Forced to eat fast food? Try these surprisingly healthy picks from some of the most popular chains

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Stop the Stress

To keep your cool during the holidays it's important to be proactive -- not reactive. Is your entire extended family cooped up in one house and driving you absolutely nuts? Try this breathing technique: Step away for three minutes and press one nostril closed while inhaling, then release that nostril and press the other one closed to exhale. A common technique used in yoga, alternate nostril breathing works faster than just taking a deep breath by helping to balance your body and mind at the same time.

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Laugh...a Lot

You've been baking cookies in your kitchen like an overworked elf only to find your kids have used the icing as a finger-painting project. On your walls. "There is humor in every situation. If something doesn't go right, just laugh -- even if you have to force it," Pasquella says. "Your neurotransmitters won't know the difference if it's heartfelt or not."

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Make a Mantra

It might sound silly but it will work. For all those tiny troubles ("Will my kids like this game?" or "Am I forgetting someone on my list?") that can quickly add up, Pasquella says to use a mantra to keep you focused and relaxed. "Mine is, 'It's only temporary,' she says. Works every time!"

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Apologize Now, Not Later

The only way to make it through the holidays in one mental piece is to forgive yourself in advance, says Pasquella. "By making a deal with yourself that it's the holidays and it's fine to let yourself have a treat or two you'll feel less stressed when you actually do give in."

These holiday recipes will let you indulge without the guilt

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Happiness Doesn't Have a Size

"There are a lot of happy size zeros and a lot of unhappy size zeros," says Redd. "Focus on the positives of the past year, weight related or not, and keep in mind all you have to be thankful for this season."

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2/2/2012 02:25:04 AM Report Abuse

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