Yes, you can actually enjoy the holidays without gaining lbs. Here’s how

  • Kelly Sundstrom
  • For the AJC
5:22 p.m Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 Health

During the Christmas season, it's way too easy to eat, drink and merry your way to holiday weight gain while visiting with loved ones.

A little puff pastry here, some spinach dip there - before you know it, you've overindulged. But it doesn't have to be that way. When it comes to maintaining your weight during the holidays, it's all about balance.

Here are a few top tips to help you keep seasonal weight gain at bay, no matter what potlucks, dinners and cookie parties come your way.

Keeping your body moving throughout the season can help you avoid extra pounds by burning off all those excess calories. Try taking family walks before or after a holiday meal, break out the Wii or visit a few holiday light displays around the Metro area that offer walking tours.

Skip all the chips, crackers, chocolate and cheese at the appetizer table, which can really rack up the calories. Focus on fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables instead. This can prevent you from eating excess sugar and refined flour, which can contribute to weight gain.

Include a little protein whenever you snack or eat a holiday meal, which can make you feel more full and help stabilize your blood sugar.

Potlucks are often laden with decadent treats and can present a challenge if you're trying to avoid gaining weight. Try bringing along a few lighter dishes so you can fill your plate with healthier options.

Let's face it, you can easily drink a day's worth of calories at holiday get-togethers. Stick to water and save your calories for the good stuff. 

Whenever possible, eat whole, unprocessed foods that look as close to their natural state as possible. Processed foods often contain ingredients that can encourage weight gain, like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. 

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(Getty file photo)

After you've enjoyed one plate of holiday food, sit back with a cup of hot tea and let your food settle. Don't rush back for seconds or thirds, which can really increase your overall calorie count.

Ah, the dessert table. It's everyone's favorite part of a Christmas feast, and everyone's worst weight-gain nightmare. Prevent yourself from over-indulging by picking out one delicious-looking treat and savoring every bite, instead of sampling a few.

Fiber can make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which can help you avoid overeating during the holiday season. Increase your fiber intake naturally by eating fiber-rich foods like fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

When you have long periods of unchecked stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that at high levels can increase your appetite. Not only that, but cortisol can cause you to crave fatty, sugary foods that might lead to unwanted weight gain. Reduce your seasonal stress by periodically drinking herbal tea, relaxing in a hot bath, meditating or listening to classical music. 

Filling your plate with smaller portions enables to you enjoy your holiday meal without overeating. Take smaller portions of high-calorie foods like stuffing and casserole, and fill in the gap with high-protein or nutrient-rich foods like turkey and fresh fruit.

Lack of sleep can lower your metabolism, which could cause you to burn calories more slowly. Ramp up your holiday calorie burn by getting a good night's sleep. 

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