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Avoid weight gain over the holidays!

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The holidays are a time when family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company — and eat! Indulgent meals, bountiful buffets, cookie swaps, holiday parties… it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy weight can present even more challenges during the holidays than throughout the rest of the year. Each year, on average, we tend to gain a small amount of weight (about one pound per year). According to some research, most of that weight is gained over the holiday season.

Study suggests you can control holiday weight gain

Does that mean we are destined to see a bigger number when we step on the scale in January? Or can we keep the end-of-year weight gain at bay?

study published in The BMJ sought to find out. Researchers examined the effectiveness of a brief (four to eight week) behavioral intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period. The researchers randomized 272 adults into one of two groups. The intervention group was given a behavioral intervention intended to increase their restraint of food and beverage consumption. The intervention involved three components: encouraging participants to regularly weigh themselves and record their weight; providing specific weight-management strategies; and providing information on how much physical activity would be needed to burn off the calories consumed in typical holiday foods and drinks. The control group received information on healthy living.

Results showed that the intervention group lost an average of 0.3 pounds, while the control group gained 0.8 pounds. This may not seem like much, but research shows that weight gains are not fully lost in the months following the holidays. Although the yearly gain is small, it can add up to an increase of 10 pounds over 10 years.

Ten Tips to Avoid weight gain during the holiday season…

Study participants in the intervention group were encouraged to follow these 10 tips to help prevent weight gain:

  • Keep to your meal routine. Try to eat at roughly the same times each day.
  • Go reduced-fat. Choose low-fat foods when possible.
  • Walk off the weight. Aim for 10,000 steps each day.
  • Pack a healthy snack. Choose fresh fruit or low-calorie yogurt instead of chocolate or chips.
  • Look at the labels. Check food labels for fat and sugar content.(carbs)
  • Caution with your portions. Don’t heap food on your plate, and think twice before having second helpings.
  • Up on your feet. Stand up for 10 minutes every hour.
  • Think about your drinks. Choose water or calorie-free drinks, and limit alcohol.
  • Focus on your food. Slow down, and don’t eat in front of the TV or on the go.
  • Don’t forget your 5-a-day. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

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