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Add a year, not a pound

December 24, 2008|By LYNN LITTLE

On average, individuals gain four to seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The secret to enjoying the season's bounty without going up a pants size involves finding personal preventative strategies.

One of the easiest ways to handle weight loss in January is not to put it on in December.

This time of year, food shows up everywhere. From meetings at work to social functions, everything seems to involve food. Delectable holiday goodies ambush well-intended people who closely monitor their weight.

Whenever possible, supply healthful food at parties by bringing low-fat selections such as vegetable-and-bean salsa on baked chips, a relish tray with low-fat dip, or sliced fruit. Some guests look for these foods so your contributions will be appreciated.

Be reasonable with your portion sizes. The smaller your portions are, the more variety of food you get to choose from the table.

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Make wise eating investments, selecting the best of the holiday offerings and passing up common foods available throughout the year.

Instead of starving the day of a holiday party, bank calories the whole week. Cutting out a can of soda a day for seven days saves around 980 calories. The body quickly adapts and spends fewer calories with skipped meals. Small amounts of food more frequently can help to keep the body's metabolism at a steady rate.

Try drinking a glass of water 20 minutes before you eat. This will help make you feel full faster during the meal.

The day after big meals, get back to your usual diet and be sure to drink adequate water. Eat lightly for the next two to three days, concentrating on fruits and vegetables, and continue to drink plenty of water.

Remember the importance of physical activity during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get going. Do some aerobic exercise. If you go to a gym, look at the people around you for inspiration.

Walking for an extra 15 minutes each day will "pay" for at least one slice of cake. It might seem like you have no time, but you can at least try to take a walk between meals with family and friends.

As the weather turns colder, it will be important to find some form of continuous exercise. Exercise is sometimes the first thing to go when the temperatures drop.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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