If you're trying to lose weight, the Holidays are difficult. From Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, holiday baked goods, Hanukkah treats, New Year's Eve desserts to Epiphany Three King Cake--Christmas equals indulgence. And that doesn't even cover the rest of the feasting. But weight loss doesn't have to go up the chimney with Santa. Here are Christmas diet tips to curb sugar cravings and holiday recipes for sweet tooth tamers.

Avoid deprivation for weight loss

Holiday traditions center on treats. If you deny your sweet tooth all season long, you'll feel left out, maybe resentful.

Indulge a little to curb sugar cravings. Partake with portion control. Prepare Christmas recipes in smaller serving sizes. Make single-bite candies, cookies, fudge and bars. Slice cookies thinner and make teaspoon-size balls. This is better for shared holiday treats and the cookie exchange. Make bigger batches of smaller portions to go further and serve more people. Everyone can sample tiny cookies and candies and still indulge the sweet tooth without the massive calorie overload.

Choose indulgences for weight loss

Save calories for favorite goodies. Don't waste them tasting batter and ingredients in recipes. Monitor what goes in your mouth. Wait till desserts are done to sample. Enjoy one cookie instead six.

Take single bites. Space it out--have one cookie and then try another kind a few hours later. Nibble away at one cookie over a period of hours. This is a sure-fire weight loss method.

Budget calories to beat holiday weight gain

List and prioritize favorite holiday recipes. Curb sugar cravings by focusing on favorites and skipping desserts you don't like as much.

Maybe you're not a pie lover, so skip it during the holidays. Maybe you like seven layer bars alright, but you love homemade marzipan. Have a tiny bite of the so-so ones and indulge moderately in the marzipan.

Use artificial sweeteners sparingly

The jury is out on artificial sweetener. Dr. Oz says any calorie savings is wasted, you eat more because you know it's "diet." With artificially sweetened desserts, you get more fat, salt, carbs.

Dietetic alternatives generally taste fake, so they don't feel like treats or satisfy sugar cravings. Some taste so bad that they ruin holiday recipes. Most artificial sweeteners are just plain unhealthy. Monkfruit and Splenda are the healthiest fake sugar. Use in highly flavored fruit pies, spiced desserts, pumpkin pie, gingerbread and diabetic berry jam. Beat obesity all year long!

Healthy sugar swaps for weight loss

For confectioners or white sugar, substitute raw sugar or evaporated cane juice (Florida Crystals or Sucanat). Replace brown sugar with coconut sugar. Switch corn syrup with pure maple syrup, blue agave syrup or molasses. Sweeten with 100-percent fruit juice, no added sugar canned, dried, or fresh fruit.

Halve sugar, oil and fat in Christmas recipes. You won't miss it and recipes taste better than an artificial sweetener. Swap sugar, oil, shortening and butter for flax seed, avocado and applesauce. Sweeten with spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger.

Keep low-calorie sweets on-hand

Eat fresh or frozen fruit, high protein, high fiber snack bars like South Beach, hot cocoa (100 calories per serving), sugarfree flavored coffee creamers, 70 percent or higher cacao dark chocolate, dried fruit--all these provide a low-impact sugar boost. Be sure to read labels on calorie count, though. Some "low sugar" foods are deceptively high in calories.

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