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Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

    • The invitations are rolling in, and the food is plentiful. How can you enjoy the holiday season without blowing your weight management goals? We asked the experts at Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Weight Management ProgramOpens new window to share their top strategies.

      1. Eat something filling before going to an event to make food challenges seem less tempting. We all know from personal experience that we make very different decisions when we're full as opposed to when we're hungry!
      2. Along these lines, be sure not to “save” calories by skipping meals and snacks the day of an event, so as not to cause a rebound effect of over-eating to make up for the earlier deprivation.
      3. Be choosey about your events. Can you skip some altogether? As we like to say in our program, if it's there, you'll eat it, so minimizing exposure to temptations can help. If you don't want to skip, can you arrive late and leave early?
      4. Bring a supportive dish (I recommend something based on fruit and/or veggies that will help you feel full at a very low average calorie per bite) that you can eat freely.
      5. Be aware of “geography” – where is the buffet table, are there hors d’oeuvres on the coffee table, bar, being passed on trays by waiters? Is there a bread basket on a table right in front of you? Be sure to situate yourself (or ask something to be moved) so you won’t be tempted (and your willpower challenged) by constantly seeing and smelling the food in front of or next to you.
      6. Figure that each “bite” of appetizer (non-veggie/fruit) type food is, ballpark, 75 calories per bite. Decide before the party how many “bites” you can afford. If you plan on, say, 6 bites, have a method to keep track of those bites, e.g., count the toothpicks, or have 6 coins in one pocket and move them to another pocket after each bite. When they’re all in the other pocket, that’s it for your bites.
      7. Keep your hands busy by holding a camera, having a (supportive) drink in each hand, or holding someone’s baby (the parents will be very appreciative!).
      8. A word about alcohol: it can lower your blood sugar as well as cause dehydration, both of which can increase your hunger. If you are going to drink, be sure to alternate drinks with water and food.
      9. Fill your plate with vegetables and/or fruit first (and try to fill at least half of your plate with these items); this will help you automatically portion-control some of the higher calorie offerings if there’s less room on the plate.
      10. If food is being served buffet style, survey the offerings first and make it a plan to have only one pass-through -- unless you go back for seconds on fruits and veggies only.
      11. Eat the fruit and veggies on your plate first. (Can you tell I’m a proponent of fruits and veggies as a tool for weight management?) This will fill you up and help you even further portion control the higher calorie protein and starchy items on your plate.
      12. Enlist some accountability and support by telling a friend or family member about your plans. We know from research that the simple act of telling someone what we’re planning to do makes it much more likely that we’ll carry out that plan.
      13. My favorite strategy is to be choosey about where to spend your calories. Of all the tempting items, which do you want the most? Decide to focus on that item (and fill up on other supportive items if you’re hungry) and it can keep you from feeling deprived. As for me, it’s going to be the fudge every time!

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