Experts agree it’s perfectly fine — even healthy — to indulge during the holidays; just don’t go bonkers. No matter what you do, don’t starve yourself or skip meals because that only sets you up for grabbing the closest plate of treats. BECKY STEIN / SPECIAL
Photo: Becky Stein
Photo: Becky Stein

12 ways to avoid holiday weight gain (and still enjoy your eggnog)

The good news is it may not be as bad as you think. The average American gains about 1 pound during the winter holiday season, far less than the 5-8 pounds commonly believed, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But the bad news is that people often don’t lose the weight and it can pile on over the years. People who are overweight are more likely to gain 5 pounds during the holidays, according to the NIH.

Lanier Dabruzzi, a dietitian and senior manager of public relations for the Southeast Dairy Association, suggests eating a healthy snack such as hummus or a cheese stick and vegetable sticks before leaving the house so that you don’t show up to the party too hungry.

When you’re at a holiday party, scan the table of delectables to decide which three high-calorie foods you really want. Devote half of your plate to waistline-friendly choices such as sliced fruits and vegetables.

And remember, all of those bites of food (broken Christmas cookies included) really do count. So do the wine, soft drinks and calorie-mother lode eggnog (which can pack 400 calories in one mug).

Another way to stave off weight gain is by exercising. Keith Kantor, a Norcross nutritionist and author of the book “The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice” (Effective Press $38.95), said even if you cannot devote the same amount of time to exercise as you normally do outside of the holiday season, try to remain active throughout the day. He recommends aiming for 10,000 steps every day, and rather than devoting separate time to exercise, counting steps can be done at the mall while holiday shopping, walking your dog, playing with your kids.

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