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Vanderbilt dietitian offers guidelines to not gaining weight during the holidays

Nov. 25, 2015, 8:41 AM

holiday cookies
(iStock)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center dietitian and certified personal trainer Jessica Bennett is asked frequently this time of year: How can I enjoy holiday parties and meals with family and not gain weight?

“It’s a good idea to eat in a healthy way all year-round, but for a lot of people it’s especially challenging during the holidays,” Bennett said.

“Fortunately, with a little planning and thought, it’s possible to have a good time, eat well, and still maintain a steady weight through the holidays.”

Here are Bennett’s 10 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain:

  1. Don’t skip meals before a party or family dinner—the “saving to splurge” strategy doesn’t usually work in the end.
  2. Avoid going to a party hungry—have a snack, such as an apple or a handful of nuts.
  3. At a party or buffet, assess all the food options first and take small servings of food that you really want. Don’t just load up on whatever’s there.
  4. Taste foods before adding salt—most foods already have plenty of salt.
  5. Choose a smaller plate if you have a choice.
  6. Avoid eating standing up—it’s a lot harder to keep track of how much you’ve eaten while on your feet and moving around.
  7. Make it a point to eat slowly—even put your fork down between bites.
  8. Watch out for high-calorie beverages. A good way to do this is to have water or sparkling water between drinks and to dilute juices with water.
  9. Don’t think you have to eat all the leftovers yourself; share them with family and friends.
  10.  The day of a party or family meal, make it a priority to do something active.

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