Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday celebrations are typically synonymous with overeating. Consuming more calories than you expend leads to weight gain. Following are 12 tips to prevent weight gain this holiday season:

1. EAT BEFORE THE PARTY. Skipping meals is never a good idea- especially when you are going out to a holiday party. Eat a healthy snack before you leave the house.  If you show up hungry, you will be less discriminating in your food choices, and more likely to overindulge.

2. MOVE MORE. Regular exercise is important for year-round weight maintenance. To prevent holiday weight gain, increase your physical activity to burn off those extra calories. 20 minutes of dancing expends about 100 calories, so get up and shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture!

3. LIMIT ALCOHOL. Alcohol stimulates the appetite and it contains 7 calories per gram. With nearly twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrate, which have 4 calories per gram, alcohol often contributes to weight gain.

4. SOCIALIZE. Engage in conversation with interesting people to keep your attention away from the high-fat, high-calorie hors d’oeuvres.

5. BRING A HEALTHY DISH. When going to a party, bring a healthy vegetable or fruit-based appetizer or side dish. This guarantees you’ll have at least one nutritious, lower-calorie option.

6. PLAN ACCORDINGLY. If you are hosting a holiday event, don’t make more sweets than you expect to serve. If you have excess food left over, send it home with family and friends.

7. USE A SMALL PLATE. Research shows that the more food you have on your plate, the more you will eat. Choose the smallest plate available to help control portion sizes.

8. COLOR HALF YOUR PLATE. Fill half your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Challenge yourself to include as many colors as you can. Split the second half of your plate into two quarters- one for lean protein and one for grain or starch.

9. EAT SLOWLY. Put your silverware down between bites and focus on the taste, aroma, and texture of the food. Enjoy the experience of eating and give your brain the 20 minutes it needs to recognize when your stomach is full.

10. ASSESS YOUR HUNGER. Stop eating when you are full. Don’t wait until your plate is clean. 

11. WAIT 10 MINUTES BEFORE CHOOSING DESSERT. Consider ending the meal with a cup of herbal tea or a piece of fresh fruit. If that doesn’t satisfy you, allow yourself a small treat.

12. MANAGE STRESS. If you find yourself feeling stressed during the holiday season, choose an alternative to emotional eating, and the subsequent weight gain. Make a list of non-food related activities you can do to help manage stress. When you feel the urge to devour a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, go for a walk, take a bath, call a friend, schedule a massage, write a journal entry, or rock out to your favorite song.

Here's to a very happy, healthy holiday season!