As we head into the holidays, most Americans will gain between 8 and 12 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. However, there are ways to prevent this weight gain!

Here are some important tips:

Eat before drinking and celebrating and before holiday parties. Going to a holiday party empty and hungry is a surefire way to overeat. Alcohol intake increases appetite to begin with and if you start without anything in the tank, it will only get worse! This doesn’t mean you’re overeating — eat a sensible meal about 2 hours before going to the party.

Try to choose protein foods first because protein helps with satiety (feeling full and not hungry).

Supplement high-fiber foods – which also aid in satiety and help create a feeling of fullness when consumed with water. Focus on the raw veggies and yes you can dip them in a dip that has some fat in it because together fiber and fat can really help control hunger along with protein.

eat some fat – that’s right, eat some fat! Fats are also the key to satiety. That said, a little goes a long way!

Bring your own food to a party. Instead of just eating high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods, bring something you enjoy that is healthy too!

Eat slowly and chew your food well – seems simple and it is. It is also VERY effective for limiting food intake!

Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses – all of which help slow down food and drink intake and make you more aware of how much you’re consuming!

Try to minimize sugar and starch intake – both sugar and starch end up as glucose (blood sugar) and high intakes cause insulin, resulting in rebound hunger. A high intake of sugar and starch causes hunger, especially when drinking alcohol, as alcohol acts as a super sugar and also stimulates the insulin response.

Pause before you get seconds – as with eating more slowly and deliberately chewing food, this can give your body time to realize it is no longer really hungry.

If you’re entertaining, have extra Tupperware, you’re ready to give away so guests can leave with some extra food!

Try not to eat in front of the TV which distracts you from how you feel and results in mindless eating!

Consider planning a cheat meal, but make sure you have a plan for how much you’re going to eat! One meal can throw you off balance, but most of the holiday weight gain comes from completely giving up healthy eating for many meals. Scheduling one cheat meal per week and scheduling to eat a certain amount of the foods you may crave can work for many people instead of mindlessly eating. If you plan your meal including your portions of alcohol, sweets, fat and sugar, you can limit the damage and still have a great time!

Drinking water. Often quoted and still real water is the best drink and avoiding sugar-laden drinks in favor of still or sparkling water can make a big difference in minimizing weight gain during the holidays.

Training! Exercise improves mental outlook and burns some calories while lowering stress levels! When we’re stressed, we eat too much! Just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference!

Sleep tight† Lack of sleep is terrible for your health and especially bad for stimulating appetite and overeating. Lack of sleep causes hunger and overeating because the normal feedback mechanisms that tell you that you are full don’t work properly when you are tired. Basically, a tired brain is telling you to eat to feel better and it’s VERY hard to resist this urge when you’re tired!

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