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Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Weight gain during the holidays is very common, with most women putting on an average of 1 to 2 pounds each year. If you want to continue on your healthy diet and still attend all of the holiday festivities without ending up a little heavier in the New Year, follow these five tips:
1. Sip Smart. One of the biggest sources of empty calories is alcohol, and during the holiday season, you're likely to find yourself at many events where cocktails and wine are on the menu. Be smart about what you're sipping to limit your alcohol intake. White wine and champagne are great choices at the bar. You can also opt for flavored vodka on ice if you prefer spirits. Keep track of how much you're drinking and limit your number of glasses.
2. Plan Ahead. Have an eating game plan for each day of the holiday season. When you know that you'll be having dinner at a party or at someone's home, eat light for breakfast and lunch. Keep healthy snacks on hand to eat when you're running from celebration to celebration, and always eat a little something healthy before you go to a cocktail party to keep from overeating.
3. Start healthy. Whether you're at a seated dinner or at an event with a buffet or hors d'oeuvres, start by eating the healthiest foods on offer first. For example, at a dinner, clear your plate of lean protein and vegetables, so that you can eat less of things like heavy casseroles. At a cocktail party, head for the veggie tray or a healthy dip like hummus to fill up on nutrient-rich, healthier fare before you start in on desserts and fried finger foods.
4. Stay Active. Be sure to schedule in some time for exercise over the holidays. If you don't want to hit the gym, go for a walk around the neighborhood with your family to enjoy the Christmas lights or do a workout DVD or online program at home. Not only will you burn calories, but you'll also alleviate some of the holiday stress from which you may be suffering.
5. Give Yourself a Pass. You can't go the entire holiday season without eating a single dessert or enjoying a single calorie-rich recipe. If you deprive yourself of all the foods you love, you're way more likely to decide to give up healthy eating entirely and start to splurge at every get-together. Remember that it takes 3,500 extra calories over what you burn to create 1 pound of fat. If you've followed the other tips, you shouldn't be in danger of gaining a pound from one special treat. Let yourself have that gingerbread man or that spoonful of green bean casserole. Just mind your portion size and truly savor the holidays.
In the end, if you end up falling off the diet wagon one day over the holiday season, don't give up. Forgive yourself. Say, "That was yesterday," and focus on doing better the next day. Feeling guilty over a holiday splurge can actually inspire you to splurge more, not less. So let it go and move on. The holidays are about enjoying the season with friends and family, not beating yourself up over a few too many sugary cocktails or eating a whole plate of Christmas cookies.

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