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December 9, 2011 • Healthy Living

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Let’s face it – many people use the traditional Thanksgiving feast as a kick-off to a holiday eating frenzy that lasts through New Years and tips the scales in an unwanted direction. Thankfully, the frequently touted “holiday 10” is a myth, but in reality most Americans do gain about a pound.  Unfortunately, the weight added over the winter holidays usually isn’t lost during the rest of the year.  Overtime, this yearly pound creep can significantly impact your health, boosting the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Here are my best tips for enjoying the holidays without wrecking your waistline and your health:

1. Just say no to sugary beverages! These sweetened drinks (think soda, fruit drinks, fruit juices, caloric mixers, eggnog and other sweet “holiday” drinks) are especially fattening.

  • Make plain water, unsweetened tea, or coffee your beverage of choice.
  • When you choose to have an alcoholic beverage, go for wine, light or low-carb beer, or spirits with a non-caloric mixer.

2. Rein in your appetite. Fill your tummy up first with foods that have lots of volume, but minimal calories – namely the “big, yet skinny,” fiber-filled fruits, veggies, and beans.  These bulky, fiber-rich, plant foods are a secret weapon for appetite control.

  • When you arrive at a holiday party, go straight to the fruit and veggie platter and eat! Be sure to choose hummus or mustard as your dip instead of the high fat creamy ones like ranch.
  • Fill 2/3’s of your dinner plate with fruit, veggie, and bean-based sides before serving the rest of your meal and eat them first.
  • Enjoy a pre-meal appetizer of tossed salad or a broth-based bean or vegetable soup.

3. Avoid mindless eating. Studies confirm we consume more when not fully engaged and conscious of the eating experience. Approach every holiday meal or party mindfully.

  • Don’t linger over the buffet table or hover over the hors d’oeuvres to nibble as you engage in conversation.
  • Pre-plate everything (meals, hors d’oeuvres, dessert etc) and find a place to sit down to eat it, even if it means right out of your lap.

4. Don’t go to a holiday gathering hungry! It takes less calories to prevent hunger than it does to deal with it once it occurs, especially in the midst of high risk holiday foods.

  • To take the edge off your hunger – have a snack an hour before you arrive at a holiday gathering. My top picks would be a small handful of nuts along with a piece of fruit (apple) or fresh raw veggies (handful of carrots) dipped in hummus.

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