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5 ways to avoid heaps of holiday calories

Monday - 11/14/2011, 11:11pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Year after year, people tell themselves the holidays will be different, making a promise to ignore the urge to indulge.

Year after year, a gym membership looks good around Jan. 1.

This year might be the time to think outside the box when it comes to curbing heavy holiday intake of calories.

Reader's Digest has five out-of-the-ordinary tricks that can help people avoid those dreaded holiday pounds.

A small whiff of a holiday favorite can go a long way to keeping you away from the refrigerator. Smelling peppermint (or apples and bananas) can trick your brain into believing you have actually consumed food.

If your sense of smell can't be manipulated, try your sense of sight. Hang a mirror opposite your seat at the dinner table. One study finds people eating in front of mirrors ate one-third less.

In spots where you can't manage to place your reflection, fill the space with the color blue. It acts as an appetite suppressant. Conversely, you should avoid red, yellow and orange in eating areas.

If your room looks like a McDonald's ad, you may want to snap a photo of the meal in front of you. A visual record of your food may help you look back and realize you didn't need that third piece of cheesecake.

When all else fails, you can borrow an idea from the French. According to fitness expert Valerie Orsoni, French women tie ribbons around their waists before heading to a restaurant for a dinner in order to keep them conscious of their tummies.

So as the guilty pleasures pile up, you may want to check your house for some blue, peppermint-scented gift wrap that was tossed out earlier in the day.

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