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How to Stay on Track with Healthy Eating and Weight Over the Holidays

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‘Tis the season for overindulging and weight gain. In fact, Americans gain more weight during November and December than during any other time of year. Want to stay on track with healthy eating and weight loss (or avoid weight gain) over the holidays?

Here are six quick tips:

1. Don’t skip meals. When we let ourselves get too hungry, we predispose ourselves to binge eating and to grabbing the first thing we see—not a good weight control strategy. Plan your meals and make sure you provide yourself with a healthy breakfast and lunch. You’ll be better equipped to follow through with the healthy choices you want to make later in the day.

2. Don’t skimp on sleep. Inadequate sleep leads to increased appetite and weight gain. Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to an increase in hunger, disruption in our metabolism, and an increase in our cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods. Have I convinced you yet? If not, listen up. In one study, women who regularly slept five or fewer hours a night were 32% more likely to have gained at least 33 pounds over the 16 years the study spanned than those who slept 7-8 hours.

3. Plan ahead. Don’t expect yourself to live on a food plan based on deprivation. Take the time to identify the treats you want to indulge in and choose the trade-offs that you are willing to make. What are the temptations you can have anytime that you can pass by over the holiday months? What portion size will you serve yourself? Thinking proactively will increase your ability to be in control and to make effective choices.

4. Savor. Take the time to really taste and appreciate the food you eat. That’s what indulging is really about. Don’t multitask while eating. Put the food on a plate. Take smaller bites. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who take tablespoon-sized bites ate twenty-five percent more at a meal than people who took teaspoon-sized bites.

5. Stay on top of your stress. What stress management strategies will you rely on this season?

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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