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Don't Gain Weight During the Holidays

Moving to maintenance makes it easier to join the fun -- and stick to your plan for the long run

The 200-Calorie Strategy continued...

3. Weigh in regularly. Checking in with the scale at least once a week is the true test for maintenance. Remember to do it first thing in the morning, in your nightclothes, and after emptying your bladder. When the scale notches upward, that's your signal to cut back on portions or rev up physical activity.

4. Eat plenty of lean protein. Boosting your protein intake with lean meats, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy, seafood, and beans will keep you feeling satisfied longer. When you visit the buffet table, opt for these lean protein choices and complement them with high-fiber grains, fruits, and vegetables, which also help fill you up for relatively few calories.

5. Have a healthy breakfast. Study after study confirms that people who eat breakfast end up eating fewer calories throughout the day. Successful losers never skip breakfast because it powers up the brain, gets the metabolism perking, and helps you perform any task better.

6. Put it on a plate. It's hard to keep track of how much food you're eating when you nibble without using a plate. Serving meals and snacks on a plate will help you avoid the mindless hand-to-mouth munching that can add lots of extra calories.

7. If you don't love it, don't eat it. This is my golden rule. Why waste calories on foods that don't knock your socks off? One bite is usually enough to tell whether you love it. If not, don't worry about waste -- just leave it on your plate. Use those extra calories for something you love.

8. Enjoy soup or a salad before going to a party. Studies have shown that a first course consisting of a large green salad with a light dressing, or a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup, can reduce the total calories you eat during a meal. These super-nutritious foods take the edge off your appetite so you don't arrive starving and dive into the nuts.

9. Satisfy a craving with a few bites. A piece of pecan pie or glass of eggnog can set you back by more than 400 calories. To stay in maintenance mode, enjoy just a few bites of such rich foods. Or choose lower-calorie alternatives (like pumpkin pie or low-fat eggnog) so your 200 extra calories will give you more to enjoy.

10. Savor every bite. Sit down, relax, and enjoy every bite of your meal. Take your time and savor the flavors, textures, and aroma of each food. Eating slowly will help you enjoy the meal and will give your brain time to receive the signal that your stomach is happily full.

This season, make "social weight maintenance" your strategy, and give yourself the gift of guilt-free enjoyment of the holiday bounty. Happy holidays!

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