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How to keep weight off during the holidays

Roasting Pumpkins in the Oven
Photo credit: GMVozd/Getty Images

From Halloween candy to fall comfort foods, the Thanksgiving feast to Christmas cookies, it’s hard not gain weight during the holidays! Other than all the sweets that tempt us everywhere we go, what’s also challenging is that so many favorite fresh fruits and veggies are no longer in season, making it harder to eat healthy. Not to mention, if you live somewhere cold, it’s hard to be active while cooped up indoors all season.

But, not only can you avoid gaining weight during fall and winter, you can lose weight without making too many sacrifices!

Here are 10 ways to avoid weight gain during the holidays

  1. Skip pasta, use a spiralizer. Pasta is a common staple in the cooler months. It’s filling, warming, and hearty! It’s also loaded with calories and refined sugars. So, instead of pasta, make noodles out of veggies using a spiralizer! You can spiralize sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini… and top with any sauce you like–they hold marinara, pesto, and alfredo very well. Try this recipe for zucchini noodles with fava beans and harissa sauce to get you started.
  2. Ditch the booze. It won’t be easy to say no to all the wine, beer, and cocktails offered at holiday parties, family get-togethers, and festive happy hours, but with the average boozy drink containing 200 calories, you’re better off with a sparkling water.
  3. Log your caloric intake. Look, no one said this was going to be easy. You would be surprised to find out how many calories are in a tablespoon of your favorite blue cheese dressing–and what a tablespoon looks like! Using an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It, keep track of what you put into your mouth in order to keep it under control.
  4. Swap “bad” snacks for healthier options. Rather than enjoying chips and dip, eat a serving of pretzels with your favorite salsa (a surprisingly good combination). Instead of sour cream or mayo, use Greek yogurt. In lieu of cheese and crackers, pair cheese with apple slices. If you have a sweet tooth, reach for the sugar free jello or a Popsicle to cure your cravings, and not cake. You don’t have to starve yourself, you just have to make smarter choices.
  5. Find produce you like. If you try to force yourself to eat things you don’t like, say broccoli or Brussels sprouts, it won’t work. Come up with a list of fresh fruits and veggies you enjoy to eat, and prepare those as snacks or side dishes. There are tons of hearty root vegetables and squashes in season this time of year! For starters, check out this satisfying autumn chopped salad recipe.
  6. Fill up on lean proteins. If you fill up on lean proteins like shrimp, pork tenderloin, tofu, lentils, tuna, salmon, and chicken breasts (baked and not cooked in oil), you’ll eat less carbs and fats, which contribute to weight gain.
  7. Exercise in front of the TV. If you’re like me, you get super excited when fall TV rolls back around. But you don’t have to become a couch potato! Do squats, lunges, donkey kicks, and crunches during viewing–anything works! You don’t even need any special equipment.
  8. Use your slow cooker. Eating healthy can be difficult if you don’t plan ahead– you’ll end up grabbing fast food or ordering a pizza. Instead, prepare a low calorie, protein and veggie-packed dinner before work, like one of these recipes from bodybuilding.com.
  9. Set a goal and monitor it. Whether your goal through the holidays is to maintain your current weight, or lose weight, make sure to remain accountable for it. Weigh yourself once a week to keep in check. And if weight is creeping up on you, take action!
  10. Eat one less bite at every meal. If this is all you did every day, you’d eat about 75 calories less per day, which is 8 pounds per year.

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