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The Holidays Don't Have To Include Weight Gain

12/14/2015 02:42 EST | Updated 12/14/2016 05:12 EST
Peter Dazeley via Getty Images
After Christmas dieting

The holiday season is a notorious time for unwanted weight gain. Office parties, family gatherings, and a thousand temptations wherever you turn can quickly lead to extra pounds that are hard to get rid of in the aftermath. Fortunately, none of this is inevitable, and you don't have to wait until New Year to get back on track.

Trying to maintain or even lose weight during the holidays may sound counterintuitive, but as a matter of fact, it can be quite feasible. For instance, if things start slowing down in your line of work towards the end of the year, you may be able to put in a few more hours exercising at the gym or outdoors. You may also have time to shop for healthier foods and prepare meals from scratch at home. Although it would probably be more fun to get spoiled at someone else's dinner table, the risk of overindulging is much greater there. So why not become a bit more proactive this time around?

"Losing weight before the holidays is a completely attainable goal," according to Matthew Benvie, owner and head personal fitness trainer of Evolve Fitness in Halifax, Canada.

But it's not just about committing yourself to a work-out regimen each day that let's you burn more calories, you also need to pay close attention to your diet, and that can be especially difficult when everything you're exposed to points in the opposite direction, Benvie explains to Huffington Post Canada.

That doesn't mean it's all denial and deprivation.

In other words, if consistently eating right is hard all year round, it can seem nearly impossible over the holidays.

"To navigate the party landmines with your healthy diet intact, you need a strategy," says Kathleen M. Zelman, the director of nutrition for WebMD, who has compiled a list of diet tips especially designed for the holidays.

Even the most disciplined people struggle with the ubiquitous temptations they're facing during this time of the year, she says. Only having a plan in place and sticking to it can help you avoid the worst pitfalls.

That doesn't mean it's all denial and deprivation. But there has to be some balance.

Think of your appetite as an expense account, and figure out how much you want to spend in terms of calories on meals and drinks, Zelman suggests. Then give yourself permission to fully enjoy -- in sensible portions.

Thankfully, there are many precautionary measures one can take to avoid overindulging, although not all may work for everyone. However, going into the season with resolve, a good 'navigation plan', and also some leeway to accommodate a few special occasions can make this year's holiday experience just as wonderful -- and without regrets.

Food and Health with Timi Gustafson R.D.

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