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Festively fit: Tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

Between appetizers, the main attraction and beverages — not to mention those hard-to-resist cookies and sweets — the average holiday meal can clock in at more than 3,000 calories.

Unfortunately, this can result in an average holiday weight gain between 2-5 pounds. Some won’t lose that extra weight, adding on year after year. How do you control the holiday weight gain or stick to your weight loss goals throughout the holidays?

Below, Kim Meeuwsen, registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Mary Free Bed Weight Management Program, offers tips to help you stay on track through the New Year:

  • Average Holiday Weight Gain Mary Free Bed Weight ManagementMake a game plan. Plan in advance what you’re going to eat and what types of physical activity you’ll be doing. Try to focus on what you can eat rather than what you can’t. Focusing on what we can’t eat (or what we think we shouldn’t) can set us up for failure because it simply leaves us feeling deprived. Make a decision to skip out on the seconds (or thirds) and be mindful of portion sizes.
  • Continue your physical activity routine. This not only helps to burn extra calories, but also may help to keep your stress levels in check. Be sure to check your gym’s holiday hours and have a backup plan in case they’re observing limited holiday hours.
  • Plates matter. Using a smaller 9-inch plate rather than the typical 12-inch plate will make your portion sizes appear much larger than if they were spread out on a 12-inch plate. Bonus: Pile half of that smaller plate with fresh fruit or veggies rather than calorie-dense items.
  • Start a new tradition. Suggest an after-dinner activity to get everyone moving, such as a winter hike, sledding or building a snowman.
  • Focus on family and friends. Holidays aren’t just about the food buffet, they’re a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. It can also be a time of gratitude, spirituality and reflection. Focus on making memories with these special people.
  • Be a food snob. Don’t waste your calories on so-so options, like store-bought dinner rolls or dry fruitcake. If you don’t absolutely love it, skip it! Eat slowly and savor each bite, placing your fork down between bites to give yourself a chance to enjoy the foods you love.
  • Take a healthy dish to a potluck. Bring something you know you won’t feel guilty eating – salad, fruit, raw vegetables and a healthy dip, or a low-calorie dessert option. Chances are, others will be grateful for the healthier choices, too. If you’re doing the cooking, try chewing gum to avoid sampling every recipe before dinner.
  • Go easy on the alcohol. Alcohol calories can quickly add up. Plus, when we drink, we’re more likely to abandon healthy eating habits. Instead, sip sparkling water with lemon or lime. If you decide to try the spiked eggnog or mulled wine, drink a glass of water between those alcoholic beverages.
  • Take time for yourself. Holidays can be equally joyful and stressful. When we’re stressed, we’re at a higher risk for stress-induced overeating. Focus on what you’re grateful for. Keep up your exercise routine. Be willing to say “no” to some events or tasks. If you think it would help manage your stress, consider making yourself a holiday schedule, blocking out daily time to unwind or have some holiday fun.

With a plan of action you can embrace the holidays, enjoy the festivities and have a healthy holiday season!

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