No matter how vigilant you may be about maintaining your weight throughout the year, the holiday season can be challenging. Between office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, cookie exchanges and family meals, it’s hard to avoid the typical few pounds that tend to creep up by the time January 1st rolls around.

But you don’t have to succumb to holiday weight gain just because your social calendar is packed and there are cookies and decadent hors d’oeurves vying for your attention. Just follow these smart rules and you’re more likely to wake up on new year’s day at the same weight you were before the holiday season got into full swing.

Don’t Save Up Calories

You may think it makes sense to cut back on what you eat all day when you know you have an event to go to. But if you don’t eat enough during the day and arrive famished, you’re more likely to overindulge. Instead, eat wisely during the day – fruit and veggies, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. Then you’ll be less tempted to eat everything in sight when faced with temptation.

Choose Your Favorites

Don’t think you’ll make it through the entire holiday season on carrots and hummus. You’ll constantly feel like you’re missing out on all the goodies. Instead, survey the options at any party or meal and then go with your favorites. Eat a small portion and savor it. If you do this, you won’t spend the whole night feeling unsatisfied and likely filling yourself up on calories that don’t quite do the trick.

Practice The 3-Bite Rule

You know the first bite is always the best. But if just one bite isn’t enough to satisfy your craving, go with the 3-bite rule instead. After that delicious first bite, enjoy a satisfying second bite and then savor the last bite. That’s all you need for total satisfaction – no need to clean the plate!

Limit Liquid Calories

Alcoholic drinks and decadent sips, such as hot cocoa, egg nog and punch, are often flowing at holiday parties. The calories in these drinks add up quickly and can sabotage your healthy eating habits. Arrive at a party with a drink limit in mind, alternate sparkling water with calorie-laden drinks or fill up on water or club soda. Then save the calories for what you really have your eye on at the buffet table.

Of course, if you find yourself eating and drinking more than usual, getting in some extra physical activity is a great way to help burn those extra calories.