Holiday party survival guide: Tips to avoid weight gain

Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style gatherings where it is easy to overeat and fill up on unhealthy options. (Image courtesy of Golubovy – Fotolia.com.)

By the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

 

Lights decorate streets across the country. The holiday season is officially upon us! However, with the joy of the season comes the tendency to over-indulge.

On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season. With just a few strategies from nutrition experts, you can avoid weight gain while still enjoying friends, family and holiday feasts.

 

Don’t skip meals

“In preparation for a holiday feast, do not skip meals throughout the day,” said Heather Mangieri, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “Skipping meals can result in overeating later on.”

Instead, Mangieri recommends eating foods full of protein and high in fiber before the feast because these foods will fill you up and satisfy hunger.

 

Don’t forget to exercise

The holidays are a busy time full of cooking, decorating, shopping and catching up with loved ones. But remember, it is still important to make time for physical activity.

“We have set a tradition to include a family walk over the holidays,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Toby Smithson. “It’s a great time to create memories, share in conversation and sneak in exercise.”

 

Don’t overdo the buffet

Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style gatherings where it is easy to overeat and fill up on unhealthy options.

To avoid overeating, Mangieri recommends loading your party plate with lean protein and veggies. “But that poses a problem at many holiday parties because treats and snacks are often all that fill the countertops. Stay in control by taking your own healthy protein options with you such as turkey meatballs, chicken skewers or a shrimp cocktail platter,” Mangieri said.

Also note that it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you are full. “Before going back for seconds, take time to savor each bite and enjoy conversation with friends and family,” Mangieri said.

 

Don’t splurge on sweets

“It is okay to save room for dessert, but try to choose only one splurge item,” Smithson recommended. “These sweet treats can stick to your waistline and the added sugar may make you crash later.”

Avoid overdoing it on dessert and limit sugary beverages.

 

Use these expert tips at the holiday dinner table to maintain a healthful eating plan throughout the entire season. The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, and it is possible to enjoy this special time without weight gain.

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