Tips from a dietitian: Surviving the holiday season

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With the holiday season upon us, sticking to your health and nutrition goals can feel next to impossible during the hustle and bustle of the season. Believe it or not, you can survive this social season without the burden of those extra pounds by January 1. Below are strategies to avoid mindless eating and holiday weight gain.

"During the event limit the number of high-calorie foods on your plate," said Megan Cobb, registered dietitian with McLaren Lapeer Region. "Take smaller portions, trying items such as leafy green salads, vegetable dishes and lean proteins. That way you can eat a larger amount of food for fewer calories and not feel deprived."

There will be many opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. Eat smaller portions and less often. Slow down and savor a smaller serving sizes. A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found eating slowly led to less hunger in both normal and overweight people.

The holiday season can be a busy time of year and social gatherings can take the place of your workout routine. Incorporate exercising into your holiday gatherings, invite your friends and family members to participate in local holiday races. This is a festive way to hold each other accountable.

Going out more and staying out later often means your not getting a full 8 hours of sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to control your blood sugar making it harder to maintain a steady weight.
"You'll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food when you're sleep deprived," said Cobb, "aim for seven to eight hours per night to guard against mindless eating."

Most of all, remember that the season is about celebrating and connecting with the people you care about.