We’ve all heard the stats over how much weight can pile on between Thanksgiving supper and New Year’s Day brunch. On the one hand, cooking magazines tantalize us with drool-worthy photos of holiday eats, while women’s glossies warn us not to over-indulge. Indeed, the gauntlet of food- and drink-centric festivities is in full swing, which means I’ve got my waistline on the brain and how I plan to maintain it into next year.

I could go to extremes, relying on the strategy espoused by Emily Blunt’s character in The Devil Wear’s Prada,

“See, I’m on this new diet. Well, I don’t eat anything and right before I feel I’m going to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight.”

Certainly not my style, hardly healthy, and terribly unfun.

My approach is just as simple but allows room to have your holiday fruitcake and eat it too. I’ve distilled it down to two words to prevent holiday weight gain:

PAY ATTENTION

That’s it.

Golden Parmesan Potato Bites

Now, here’s what I mean:

Pay attention to what truly appeals to you at seasonal parties and events. Enjoy just those foods and skip the rest of it. Be choosy and go for what you like. If cheese is your thing, find the best of the bunch and relish every bite. If you are a dessert gal, don’t deny yourself.

Pay attention to when you’re really hungry and when you’ve had enough, and honor that. Part of giving yourself permission to indulge is knowing when to call it quits.

Pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth. Really taste your food and savor your wine instead of mindlessly popping every passing appetizer or chugging your cocktail while ordering a second.

Pay attention to how it feels when you do overindulge. Waking up with a hangover, whether it’s on spirits or sugar or both, feels pretty crummy. Then, recommit to moderation.

Pay attention to how exercising over the holidays helps manage the stress and how good it feels to keep it up. Taking the time to bust a move, even if it’s for a 15 minute walk, pays off in controlling the chaos and the calories.

Pay attention to the stories you sometimes tell yourself…and rewrite them. “But it’s the holidays. I never eat fondue/chocolate truffles/cheesecake, I have to go for seconds.” Remind yourself that it’s not the last time you will ever have these foods. Plus, overeating doesn’t usually add up to enjoyment anyway.

Pay attention to opportunities for celebrating the season being active with your family and friends: an evening walk with your hubby to see the neighborhood lights, ice skating with the kids, building a snowman together, a group hike with visiting friends.

Pay attention to the fact that you are your kids’ role model. Let them see how you use moderation to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it. You can bake those Christmas cookies, and savor them, without taking down the whole dozen.

What are your tips and ideas?