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3 Tips To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a time of joyful celebration, long-awaited reunions and decadent foods. Delighting in once-per-year foods is normal, but overconsumption during the holidays can take a toll on your health. 

Studies have shown that adults gain an average of 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays--and many have difficulty shedding them in the new year. Year-upon-year this weight gain can accumulate and impact your overall health. Try these simple and effective strategies to avoid gaining excess weight during the holidays:

Some tips to help stay healthy and energized throughout the holiday season.

1. Find joy in movement. Physical activity can help your body and mind stay healthy. Any movement is beneficial--try walking the neighborhood, doing workout classes with friends or family, dancing or even vacuuming with vigor. Breaking up sedentary time with more movement can help to balance your blood sugar, increase your metabolism and boost your mood. This movement increases the calories you burn through something called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)--meaning you burn more calories by simply moving more, even if the activity is not structured exercise. 

2. Decorate your plate with greens. Commit to eating more vegetables throughout the holidays. Vegetables tend to have more nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, and fewer calories than some of the richer options available during the holidays. To help crowd out some of the more calorie-dense options on your plate, aim to fill half of it with vegetables.

3. Be present with your plate. Eating while distracted can increase how much food you consume. When you eat in front of the TV, or take an extra bite while socializing at a holiday party, you consume more and do not feel as satisfied. Instead, use all of your senses to eat mindfully.

If there are special family recipes that you want to savor over the holidays, use these tips to truly enjoy the food in front of you. It takes time for your brain to catch up to the sensation of fullness in your stomach, slow down your meal by taking small bites and chewing each thoroughly. Enjoy the way the food looks and smells. Listen to any sounds the food makes, such as sizzling or crunching, and pause to truly feel the texture and taste on your tongue. This helps you to take pleasure in what is on your plate, as well as the company around you, all while giving your brain time to signal it's full before going back for seconds. 

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Ashley Reed, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She works at Chesapeake Regional’s Lifestyle Health & Fitness Center in Diabetes and Nutrition Services.​

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