Tis the season to be merry, indeed. For those among us who love food there are temptations at every turn -- from mugs filled with hot chocolate to freshly baked cookies, tasty hors d'oeuvres, and of course, holiday drinks. If you're not careful, the extra calories in those tempting dishes and drinks will be settling in and around your waistline for the long haul. The ugly bottom line is: unless you've got a plan in place, you're going to gain three to five pounds in the next four to six weeks.

So let's not! We've put together a few tips to help stay on track.

1. Eat before you go. Just as you shouldn't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you shouldn't hit the holiday party circuit on one either. If you head to a party hungry, you are highly likely to consume way more calories than you anticipated. Prepare a mini-meal the night before that can be eaten on the go.

2. Use a smaller plate. Whether you are grazing at a buffet table or enjoying a sit-down meal, do yourself a favor and eat from the smallest plate you can find. Just be sure you don't fill up your small plate 10 times! Stick to one serving.

3. Participate better. Bring a dish or two that you know is healthier, for example, a sweet potato dish and/or a salad. There are so many delicious holiday recipes that are quite healthy, you probably won't feel deprived. Then, when you're filling up your small plate, eat nutrient-rich foods first.

4. Drink water. A great way to limit the number of empty-calorie drinks you have is to alternate between a beverage and a large glass of water. I'm sure you've heard that we waste many calories on beverages. More important to me is the quality of ingredients contained in those beverages. They're not doing your body any good, and I'm not talking only about alcohol here. Pour yourself a glass of water -- fizzy or flat, with a lemon or lime, or naked -- for every other beverage you drink.

5. Chew your food. Make a point to think about how many times you're chewing each forkful, and while doing so, think about number six. This gives our body time to tell our brains that we're full. The ultimate goal: to not over-stuff ourselves. We simply need to feel satisfied.

6. Be grateful. Including for the food you've been provided. Think about it. Many all over the world, including in America, struggle to find food each day. Be thankful and show this thanks to those around you.

7. Implement the 80/20 rule. Incorporate it into your food choices. We will go insane if we think we can handle eating good 100 percent of the time, especially if we're just starting out. Set a goal to eat nutritious foods 80 percent of the time, and spoil yourself, within reason, the other 20 percent.

The trick here is to be better and implement a few or even one of these ideas. If you try to do all, you may set yourself up for disappointment. Our plan this year is to follow numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to shns.com.