8 ways to avoid holiday weight gain

HOUSTON – The National Institutes of Health said, contrary to the belief that people gain a lot of pounds over the holidays. The average person gains about one pound.

However, they said the one pound is sticking around year after year and is a contributing factor to obesity. Think about weighing in 10 pounds heavier with each decade.

Dr. Shreela Sharma, Ph.D., R.D., associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental at UTHealth School of Public Health, said there are some tips that could help you avoid holiday weight gain, maybe even lose weight.

1.    Moderation

Plan ahead and eat in moderation. Sharma said small plates will help you choose smaller portions.

2.    Never starve yourself

Sharma says it’s counterintuitive to how the body works. Your body is genetically programmed to pack on weight and will enter starvation mode. It will hold on to every calorie and you’re going to end up packing on more weight. It’s better to keep to your usual eating schedule – stay away from yo-yo dieting.

3.    Eat something before a party

“For example, if you eat almond butter or peanut butter on whole-grain toast, that's the best kind of a snack before you go to a party because you're not too full,” Sharma said. “So that when you go to these parties and they have this buffet of food, you're not binging on it.”

4.    Don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach

When you drink, then you're more likely to start grabbing unhealthy foods if you've starved yourself before the party. See tip number three.

5.    Eat berries before dessert

A side dish of the colorful fruit may help you avoid big portions of sweets.

“You get your vitamins, you get your fiber but you also get your sweet treat and that will make you kind of monitor your calorie intake and the portion for the dessert you may have,” Sharma said.

6.    Make mini cakes or muffins

“We found that you don't need large portions to feel satisfied. So, making mini muffins instead of the big grande ones or the mini cheesecake bites instead of the giant slices can give you the same satisfaction,” Sharma said.

7.    Replace flour with whole wheat flour

Replace refined grains with whole grains. “It adds a nutty texture to baked goods and cakes but also makes it way more healthier,” Sharma said.

If you’re unsure about how it will change the taste, start with ½ whole wheat flour and ½ regular flour.

8.    Use applesauce

When a recipe calls for fat (like butter) use applesauce instead. For the most part, you can replace equal parts butter or oil for equal parts applesauce.