Call me crazy but the way I look at calories is the same way I look at shopping. Buy cheap (or inexpensive if you don't like the word cheap). Splurge only when you can afford to and remember, it isn't a sale unless it's at least 50% off.
How does that equate to calories? When it comes to meal planning or facing the holiday buffet or the Thanksgiving meal that's coming up sooner than we realize, think of calories in terms of dollars. Those carrots are going to be a whole lot "cheaper" to eat than the mound of potatoes swimming with butter and gravy. Then if you want to splurge on a little whipped cream for your pie, you can. It's all a matter of budgeting.
And the 50% off sale? That's when you learn to cut calories in a recipe or use a sugar substitute instead of the real thing.
Once you get the idea of looking at calories as dollars, you'll hear the cha-ching of the cash register whenever you pause and consider the hot fudge sundae.