THE BLOG
11/30/2011 06:35 pm ET | Updated Jan 30, 2012

6 Simple Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

There's an ugly rumor that Americans gain 8-10 pounds during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Thank goodness this is not true. In fact, research shows that during the holidays, Americans gain just 1-2 pounds on average. While this doesn't sound like much, evidence shows that we don't shed the annual poundage. So, in 5 years, two pounds becomes an extra ten!

While the holiday season is no time to go on a diet, try these six simple tips to maintain your weight over the next six weeks.

Ruin your appetite before a big party. Grab a handful of nuts, an ounce of cheese or a small apple with peanut butter before your next holiday party. These protein and carbohydrate rich snacks will take the edge off your hunger and keep you from diving head first into the buffet.

Don't skip meals. "Saving" calories doesn't work. You'll just end up feeling tired and may overeat at your next meal.

Keep tempting treats out of sight. Just seeing food can trigger the desire to eat. In one study, candy placed in a clear jar was eaten 50% faster than candy in opaque jars. The old saying is true: out of sight = out of mind. Keep cakes, cookies and other treats in opaque containers. Without the visual cue, you're less likely to want it.

Beware of bloating beverages. Pumpkin spice lattes, eggnog, mint chocolate chip milkshakes and caramel apple cider are hot items at every doughnut shop, coffee house and fast food restaurant in sight. These limited time offers are tempting but often pack a serious calorie punch. It's okay to indulge occasionally but beware, that peppermint chocolate chip milkshake can run as much as 900 calories a pop!

Sleep. Work demands, travel and a full social calendar can wreak havoc on your body. Stress and a lack of sleep create a recipe for weight gain. Never underestimate the power of a good night's rest. Aim for 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night.

Move more but don't use exercise as a license to eat. Aim for a regular fitness routine but you may need to add more activity to balance those additional bites of food. Take a 10-15 brisk minute walk around the mall before shopping, go holiday light gazing by foot (not by car) or wear a pedometer to challenge yourself to get more steps in everyday. Just remember, it may take an hour to burn 500 calories on a treadmill but just a few minutes to slurp it down in a gingerbread latte.

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