Washingtonians concerned about their weight (and who can afford private counseling) have often sought guidance from nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge, the author of "Diet Simple" (Lifeline Press, 2002), and a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. With the holiday season in full force, Tallmadge agreed to share some of her strategies for enjoying the festivities, and getting through them without weight gain.

* Give yourself permission to indulge at one social gathering out of every four, she says, especially within the same week. "But only eat the foods you really love. Don't waste your calories on food you don't care about."

* Eat before you party. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Avoiding lunch makes it likely you aren't going to take dainty servings at the dinnertime buffet table. And if a late mealtime is scheduled, eating a piece of fruit or some vegetables ahead of time helps. "But you'll feel full longer if [it's] eaten with fat or protein, such as a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter or an ounce of nuts or a serving of low-fat or no-fat yogurt," she says.

* Savor each bite. "At parties we tend to gulp food without thinking about it very much," she says. "Put your food on a plate and take it to a table. Sit down, relax and enjoy it."

* Wear something tight and sexy. "You're a lot less likely to stuff yourself."

* Get rid of leftovers. "Holiday meals are notoriously high in fat and calories," she cautions. "Splurging is great but you want to get back to normal as soon as possible."

* This one's the hardest: If you must lose weight over the holidays, write down what you eat. "Research shows the people most likely to lose over this high-risk season," she says, "were ones who closely self-monitored everything they ate."

-- Judith Weinraub