Halloween is over and now Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner and planning has probably already begun. Here are ways to avoid holiday weight gain. You probably already have dates set for family events and parties with friends and co-workers and maybe even a list of dishes you plan to make as well. The holiday season consists of nearly two months of celebrating with goodies appearing in homes and offices before Thanksgiving and continuing through the beginning of January. Let’s face it, these goodies rarely lack calories and magically pop up on the table at just that perfect moment!

Research shows that the average weight gain during the holidays from October to January is 7 to 10 pounds. It makes sense, holidays are often centered around delicious food and with our busy schedule, the gym and exercise usually gets pushed to the side. This is also why so many New Years resolutions involve losing weight or becoming healthier. So what can we do this holiday season to not be a Grinch by saying no to all holiday food, but instead enjoy & embrace this wonderful time in moderation? Here are a few tips to keep our hearts cheery and our waistlines happy!

You probably know dates of most of your holiday gatherings in advance, so plan your eating for the week accordingly. For example, if you know you have a holiday party on Saturday try to eat as clean and healthy as you can from Sunday to Friday. If you normally go out to eat for lunch at work, try packing your lunch instead so you know you will be eating healthy during the work week.

If you are in charge of bringing a dish to a party or hosting one yourself, don’t be afraid to cook something healthy. It will be a refreshing dish amongst all the rich foods that are high in calories. And chances are, someone will appreciate your healthy option and you will too!

Don’t let the busyness of the season or colder weather give you an excuse not to exercise. Physical activity not only burns calories, it also helps to reduce feelings of stress that is often felt during the holiday season. If you get a good workout in, it can offset some of the extra calories you will be consuming.

Writing down what you eat is a good tool to do not only during the holidays but all year around. According to research, people dieting who were consistently keeping a food journal lost double the pounds of those who did not. Food diaries can help you track everything you are eating and give you an awareness of your eating habits and patterns. A visual diary can help those watching their weight highlight their pitfalls that would go unnoticed otherwise. For example, you probably will be less likely to go for that Christmas sugar cookie when you see a list in front of you of 4 other cookies you ate throughout the day.

Lastly, maintain a positive frame of mind. Learning how to avoid weight gain can be a challenge. But it is also a fabulously fun time of year. And remember holidays do not have to revolve around food, focus on nonfood fun. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy holiday season!

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