The holidays can be a challenge for even the most dedicated dieter. There are the treats at work, parties to attend and not enough time to get to the gym. The treats at work really get me. I can’t walk past a table full of home baked goods without trying something.

But just because you’re indulging during the holidays, doesn’t mean you have to gain weight during the season.

Dr. Colleen Kennedy, a bariatric surgeon at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, suggests being realistic with your goals during party season and focus on maintaining your weight, not losing any. Her suggestion for helping you do that? It’s not sexy, it’s simple: exercise. It helps you burn the extra calories you consume this time of year.

She also has advice if you’re looking to cut caloric corners.

“Stay away from the sweets,” she says. “That is where you get a lot of calories in a small amount of food.”

Grapevine’s Eileen Flanagan has lost 50 pounds thanks to bariatric surgery and doesn’t want any of them returning. She has some tried and true tips that are helping her keep off the pounds during this decadent season. Her first one? Spoil your appetite before a big celebration.

“When you go to parties, do not go hungry always eat before you go and eat protein.”

Flanagan also suggests weighing yourself regularly and sharing your delicacies, like the Hungarian nut roll she recently made with her daughter.

“I had a piece of it last night. It was wonderful. I have since cut it all up and brought it to work and it’s no longer available to me.”

One of my favorite tips? Try brushing your teeth. A number of experts say it’s a signal that you’re done eating and freshens your breath, making you less likely to resume eating or snacking.

Here are some other tips:

· At parties, fill up on crudités. Think celery, carrots, peppers. Use hummus, salsa or healthy-fat guacamole as a dip. · Forgo the fruity drinks. No juice-drinks or heavy cocktails with sugar-laden sweeteners. A glass of champagne or wine is a perfect cocktail. Have a 12-ounce or larger glass of water between every alcoholic beverage.

· Practice the three-bite rule. I learned this years ago and for some reason it works. Take a first, second and third bite of, say, a piece of cake. Think normal bites, not abnormally large or small ones. Enjoy your food slowly and savor it. You be satiated after that third bite. I promise.

· This is a great one from Shape Magazine: Ladies, carry a clutch handbag to a party or gathering. “Hold it in one hand and a drink in the other. When your hands are occupied, it’s tough to reach for that mini quiche!” Genius!