ATLANTA — For years, LaTisha Styles gained weight every holiday season, as much as 10 pounds.

From office parties to holiday parties to her kitchen at home, sweet temptations were a constant of the season: the chocolates, pies, macaroni and cheese. “I am in charge of the sweet potato pie, and we had a few in the house, and honestly, one year, I went through a half a pie cutting and slicing a little taste here and there,” Styles said.

In a pattern familiar to many Americans, year after year, Styles expanded her waistline during the last couple of months of the year. And then she started the new year with a serious diet to shed the holiday pounds.

But a couple of years ago, Styles, now 29, started taking a different approach to the holidays by exercising more and being more mindful of her eating. It’s the sort of strategy that experts embrace.

Styles’ goal is simple: Come Jan. 1, when she gets on the scale, she will weigh what she does before the holidays. “I used to slow down this time of year,” said Styles, who lives in Atlanta, “but I want to keep things more even-keeled and not be so far behind in being in shape after the holidays.”

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, nibbling on chocolates, sugar cookies, pumpkin pie seems to be a way of life.

The good news is it may not be as bad you think. The average American gains about 1 pound during the winter holiday season, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But the bad news is that people often don’t lose the weight and it can pile on over the years. People who are overweight are more likely to gain 5 pounds during the holidays, according to the NIH.

Experts agree it’s perfectly fine, even healthy, to indulge during the holidays; just don’t go bonkers. And don’t starve yourself or skip meals.

Dr. Stacy Mobley, a naturopathic doctor in Atlanta who focuses on wellness and preventive health care, suggests eating hummus and vegetable sticks and drinking a glass of water before leaving home.

“That way, you can go to the party and you can socialize and catch up with people instead of being in this ‘feed me’ mode,” Mobley said.

When you’re at a holiday party, scan the table of delectables to decide which three high-calorie foods you really want. Devote half of your plate to waistline-friendly choices such as sliced fruits and vegetables.

All those bites of food really do count. So do the wine, soft drinks and calorie-mother lode eggnog.

Another way to stave off weight gain is by exercising. Mobley said as little as a 10-minute walk can keep people on track.

Meanwhile, Styles is running four days a week instead of two. “When you run, you have that sense of accomplishment and you feel on top of the world.”

Tips for keeping holiday eating under control:

Plan ahead: Before you go to the mall, slip a cheese stick and carrot sticks, or another low-fat snack, into your or bag to fight off the food court.

Never go to a party hungry. Eat a healthy snack such as apple slices, yogurt or vegetable soup.

Drink plenty of water. Have a glass before the party to help fill you up.

Don’t drink your calories. Consume alcohol in moderation, if at all.

Don’t hang out by the buffet table. Remember, eat whatever you like as long as it’s in moderation.