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How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday food and busy schedules make it too easy to gain weight. Follow these 10 suggestions to stick to your meal plan this season without feeling deprived.

Relax and Enjoy the Festivities

Focus on the activities instead of the food. A party is a great place to meet people and catch up on news. Distance yourself from the buffet table to minimize the amount that you nibble.

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Stick to Your Regular Eating Schedule

Keep your eating times consistent to help with blood sugar control. If you skip a meal or go to a party hungry, your blood sugar can drop and you might overeat later. If the party doesn't fit your meal or snack schedule, eat something small at your usual time and supplement lightly at the party. If you're at risk for hypoglycemia, make sure to have a treatment on hand.

Plan Ahead for Meals

If you're attending a party or family dinner, ask questions before you go if you feel comfortable with the host, or offer to bring a dish that will fit into your meal plan. When you arrive, scope out the food table before filling your plate to decide what you want to taste and enjoy. If you're the cook, nibble on fresh veggies or other healthy snacks while you're planning and prepping for the party.

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Use a Smaller Plate

Dish up your food on a salad or snack plate if one is available. Select one to three of your favorite items in small portions and savor each bite. If you want more, wait at least 20 minutes, then decide whether you're actually hungry or just craving more food. You can eat almost anything in small quantities.

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Provide Healthful Food Options

If you're the host, offer a variety of low-fat, low-calorie foods, such as fruit and vegetable trays and calorie-free beverages, along with traditional options. Cook reasonable amounts of food to minimize tempting leftovers. If you're expecting 12 guests, don't prepare for 50 people -- too many leftovers invites excess eating. To get the leftovers out of your house, purchase small disposable containers and send some food home with each guest.

Make Healthy Recipe Substitutions

Reduce the fat in your traditional family favorites without sacrificing flavor by substituting with a lower-fat product, such as fat-free milk, light cream cheese, or light sour cream, in recipes. To reduce sugar, use less sugar or try a sugar substitute. "You might be able to reduce the sugar and/or fat by one-fourth or more in some recipes and still have an excellent product," says Laura Marzen, RD.

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Aim for Weight Maintenance, Not Weight Loss

The holiday season might not be the ideal time to focus on weight loss. A more realistic goal is to maintain your weight and keep your diabetes under control. Help yourself to succeed with positive and specific self-talk. For example, if you tell yourself you'll eat a thin slice of apple pie and a small serving of potatoes, you're more likely to follow through than if you plan to totally skip these favorites.

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Choose Light Beverages

Choose calorie-free beverages such as water with lemon, diet soft drinks, club soda, or mineral water. Punch, eggnog, and alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories that can add up fast. For example, 1 cup of eggnog contains about 340 calories and 35 grams of carb.

Make Time to Move More

When you're busy with holiday activities, you might be tempted to skip your workout. Exercise can help you manage hunger, burn calories, reduce stress, and control your blood sugar. In the long run, you'll have more energy, accomplish more, and enjoy the holidays more if you stay active.

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Keep Track of Your Numbers

Make sure you continue to check your blood sugar levels and take your blood glucose-lowering medications as prescribed. Holiday parties, stress, and irregular schedules can cause your blood sugar to be erratic. By monitoring your numbers closely, you can adjust your activities and food choices as needed. When your blood sugar is in good control, you'll feel better and be able to fully enjoy the festivities.

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