10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
Experts say portion control is key when the temptations are endless.
It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner --
frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for
Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're
like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day.
So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's
just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health,
most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the
winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain
an important factor in adult obesity.
But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday
goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the
key," says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American
Council for Fitness and Nutrition. "I don't believe you can't eat food that
you like -- even indulgences -- but it is the amount you eat," she tells
Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are
endless. That's why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid
1. Never Arrive Hungry
New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you
maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when
you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If
you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your
2. Divert Your Attention
Many people forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg
tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says.
"Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than
Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a
small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus
on the conversation."
3. Pace Yourself
Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half
hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. "If you cram in
as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will
fill you up with less food."
To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between
every bite. "This puts you in control."
4. Count Your CanapÃ©s
When there are canaps, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep
track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and
stick to it.
5. Outsmart the Buffet
When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and
don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. "Go for the
simplest foods on the buffet," Finn says. "Fresh fruits and vegetables and
shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips."