1. Enjoy a large, low-calorie warm beverage or soup. Studies show it can help you cut back on calories later in the day. And soups made with water, not milk, are particularly effective in reducing subsequent calorie intake. In addition, warm and hot foods require that we eat more slowly and therefore allow our body's "you are now full" alert system to activate before we have stuffed ourselves.

2. Hot chocolate is one of the season's biggest treats and can stay on your menu with a few adjustments. Be sure to use a sugar-free, fat-free chocolate mix!

3. Make mashed potatoes healthier by combining pureed cauliflower with the potatoes and using reduced-fat milk and butter-flavored vegetable spread. Or opt for a baked potato topped with low-fat yogurt and steamed veggies.

4. Build a better bagel. Opt for the smallest size you can find — or stick with only half of the supersize, 500-calorie version that is so common these days.

5. Instead of sour cream on baked potatoes, try blending nonfat cottage cheese with tomato sauce and then topping the potato with 1/4 cup of the mixture. You'll save 150 calories. This is my all-time favorite!

EXTRA TIDBIT:

N.E.A.T.

NEAT, or nonexercise activity thermogenesis—the calories we burn while fidgeting.

It turns out everyday activities like standing, moving around, fidgeting, and doodling can burn as many as 350 calories a day — which could account for a loss of 50 pounds a year! Dr. Levine of the Mayo Clinic found that obese people sit 150 minutes more per day than lean people do, and that even after obese people in the study lost weight they didn't sit any less.

To boost your calorie-burning, try strolling to the bus stop, fidgeting during a meeting, standing, walking around the block, and changing the channel without the remote.

What Do You Think?