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7 ways to ward off weight gain over the holidays

Yes, December has arrived and the holiday season is in full swing. One thing most of us worry about while celebrating Christmas is packing on the pounds. Whether at home or while visiting family and friends, there just never seems to be a shortage of food and goodies, and let’s not forget about the drinks, too!

According to Dr. Ray Pataracchia, founder of the Naturopathic Medical Research Clinic in Toronto, the average person in Canada and the U.S. gains around one to five pounds during the holidays, and on Christmas Day some people actually consume about 6,000 calories, which is three times higher than the daily recommendation.

For those of you who want to keep the holidays light and healthy at home, there are plenty of ways in which you can enjoy all the festivities without expanding your waistline.

Here Are HOSS Magazine’s Top Tips For Healthy Eating This Christmas

Eat Breakfast. Dr. Pataracchia indicates that some people think skipping the first meal of the day is good way to save on calories, but this is a bad idea. “You need to start your day off right with a protein fruit smoothie, or a bagel (gluten-free) with fruit and vegetables, or an English muffin (gluten-free) with eggs. These are healthy choices, and eating right in the morning means you are less likely to overindulge fattier foods later in the day,” he says.

Make Your Christmas Plate Healthy. When it comes time for Christmas dinner, Dr. Pataracchia highly suggests that you fill half of your plate with vegetables, like broccoli, red peppers and beets, to name a few examples, and only a small portion should be for turkey (try to only have white turkey). “You can devote the rest of your plate for a small portion of potatoes and some stuffing. The trick is to reach for more vegetables as they are far lower in calories and healthier too,” he says.

Skip the Sauces. Sure, many of us enjoy vegetables that are coated with cheese sauce or melted butter, but beware they make for dangerous dishes, according to Dr. Pataracchia. “Instead, steam your vegetables and give them some flavour with lemon and herbs, or even olive oil. When you cut out the creamy sauces and go more natural, you will probably end up saving around 150 calories in each serving, and that’s a good thing,” he says.

Say No to Recreational Eating. Always know that controlling your food portions during the holiday season is the best way to avoid unnecessary weight gain. So when you are at home and have finished your meal, make sure you don’t socialize with others near the buffet table or in the kitchen where all the food is still sitting out. “The further away you are from food means you will be less tempted to eat more,” says Dr. Pataracchia.

Fill Your Fridge and Cupboards With Healthy Foods. Instead of loading up on cakes and dessert dishes and chips and dip, Dr. Pataracchia suggests that you stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, as well as healthy snacks. “The more you get into a heathier eating routine means you won’t be packing on the pounds,” he says.

Watch What You Drink. Sweet cocktails that blend in nicely with the holiday cheer are loaded with calories, so avoid them at all costs. For the latte lovers, go with skim milk and stay away from the whipped cream. Dr. Pataracchia indicates that when dinner arrives, have a wine spritzer with club soda (soda water is calorie-free).

Exercise At Home. Dr. Pataracchia says that one thing is a must during the holiday season: get some exercise. “Take your kids out in the backyard for some outdoor activities, and if there is snow, then pack it up and roll it up and build a snowman. Inside the house, you can even set up a small home gym without breaking the bank, or you can do sit-ups or push-ups in the basement or the living room. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will burn off fat and help build some muscle,” he says.

The holidays may be jam-packed with food and festivities, but if you follow these healthy tips, you can start the New Year on a healthy foot.