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How to Help Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

It’s hard to resist loading our plates with turkey, ham and high-calorie side dishes like stuffing and cheesy potatoes during holiday feasts. However, too much of these favorite foods can lead to double-time on the treadmill when the new year arrives.

If your holiday dinner is a heaping plate of turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, buttered rolls, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce, served with a glass of wine and followed by a slice of pie with whipped cream, it can add up to nearly 2,500 calories. If you add in appetizers and more drinks, a holiday celebration can exceed 3,000 calories. That’s about 50 percent more than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended adult daily calorie intake.


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There’s good news, though. You may be able to help avoid holiday weight gain with these practical steps.

· Pick your poultry wisely: Turkey and chicken are healthier than high-fat duck and goose. At mealtime, select white meat, which contains less fat than dark. Keep meat to a 3-ounce portion, roughly the same size as a deck of cards. Remove turkey or chicken skin to cut even more fat.

· Plan your portions: Use the American Diabetes Association’s Create Your Plate tool to get an idea of healthy portions of vegetables, protein, grains and starchy foods, fruit and drink.

· Revise recipes. There are lots of recipe alternatives out there that can cut fat and sodium as well as calories. Check out these five easy ingredient swaps to get started.

· Avoid emotional eating: Digging into a cheeseball when you’re cranky may offer short-term comfort from holiday stress, but emotional eating can sabotage weight-control efforts, according to the Mayo Clinic. Try managing stress levels with yoga, meditation or deep breathing instead.

· Don’t show up hungry: Does your office holiday party take place over lunch? If so, eat breakfast and a mid-morning snack to curb your appetite. If it’s an evening bash, have chicken or fish for lunch and a high-fiber, mid-afternoon snack to keep you fuller longer.

· Indulge selectively: Think you can’t eat pumpkin pie? Maybe you can, if you keep the portion small and forgo whipped topping. Or, maybe you choose to pass on dinner rolls and bacon-wrapped sausages to free up discretionary calories for a cookie or cup of eggnog.

· Benefit from a buddy: The American Diabetes Association recommends enlisting the help of a friend, coworker or family member who also wants to avoid overeating. The two of you can split a dessert or even go for a walk together while everyone else sits down to pie and ice cream.

By being more intentional about meal, snack and dessert choices, you may help keep from adding unwanted pounds while still enjoying your holiday celebrations.