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How to Avoid Holiday Heft

Thanksgiving not only unofficially marks the start of the holiday season, but it also unofficially marks the start of the I’m-afraid-to-step-on-the-scale season. In fact, the average American consumes some 4,500 calories – along with 229 grams of fat – from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Without question, this is the time of year when many of us tend to overindulge, and – unfortunately – unwise food decisions are not free of consequences. While the exact number of pounds is subject to debate, there’s widespread agreement that the majority of Americans gain weight during the period stretching from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

Tips to Avoid Holiday Heft

If you want to avoid starting the New Year with a closet full of split seams, ATRIO Health Plans recommends following these tips:

  • Don't skip meals. Many people skip breakfast or lunch, thinking that those missed meals enable them to increase their caloric intake at the evening’s holiday gathering. This strategy, however, generally backfires, as the person – who is now very hungry – often ends up inhaling many more calories than the ones skipped earlier in the day.
  • Eat high-fiber foods before the party. Fiber is filling, so you’re less likely to overeat at the holiday gathering. High-fiber options include vegetables, a small salad, a piece of fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal.
  • Indulge, but in moderation. Feeling deprived almost always leads to poor food choices, so treat yourself to a small piece of pie or one cookie – but not both.
  • Fill up on vegetable-based sides. The average serving of non-starchy vegetables contains about 25 calories. Consequently, if you cover half of your plate with vegetables, you’re more likely to consume less calories overall. So, reach for green beans and salad, rather than pasta and potatoes.
  • Stall for seconds. It takes our bodies roughly 20 minutes or more to register a feeling of fullness. If you eat quickly and help yourself to seconds, you haven't given your stomach a chance to feel full. So, don’t rush through your meal; instead, take a break before considering additional helpings, thus giving your body time to determine if you're actually still hungry. If you do overeat at one meal, cut back on your next. It takes 500 calories per day above your normal consumption level to gain one pound.
  • Don’t drink your calories. You probably won’t, once you’re aware that an eight-ounce cup of eggnog contains a whopping 343 calories. Knock back a couple of these before your holiday meal, and you’re on your way to breaking the calorie bank. Instead, have a glass or two of water before you start imbibing alcoholic beverages. You also should reach for the H2O between adult beverages. Not only are cocktails high in calories, but overindulging in alcohol also can lower food-consumption awareness.
  • Make time to exercise. Although the holidays are super hectic, it’s important to stick to your exercise regimen. Doing so serves as a weight-gain safety net of sorts, in that regular exercise ensures that the occasional holiday treat won't result in you welcoming the New Year carrying unwanted extra pounds. Even if you have to decrease the time spent working out, that’s preferable to not exercising at all.

None of the tips are difficult to do, and if you adhere to them, you can fully enjoy the holiday season while avoiding putting on Santa-worthy weight.