Strategies for dodging winter pounds

The good news: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American does not gain 7-10 pounds during the holidays, as widely reported. Its more like less than 1 pound. The bad news? You’re not likely to lose that pound. The news gets worse for overweight people: A Tufts University study reports that they’re likely to pack on 5 unwanted pounds. Follow these tips to ensure that the holidays are about celebration, not weight gain.

Ho, ho, H2O!

Carry a bottle of water everywhere and drink from it throughout the day. Water fills your stomach and reduces feelings of hunger. Drink your fill before going to a party or fancy restaurant, and you’ll probably eat less.

Avoid the break room.

Studies show that people snack more when they see goodies, so avoid break rooms and other areas at work where well-meaning folks leave sweets. Instead, at break time, take a brisk walk and fill up on healthy, portable snacks like carrot sticks and apple slices.

Choose the small plate.

Research shows that people tend to eat whatever they put on their plates even if their brains are screaming, Stop! You’re full! If you hit the buffet line with a large plate, you’re more likely to overeat. Instead, take the smallest plate possible. If you’re still hungry, you can make a return trip.

Walk in the winter wonderland.

One of the simplest ways to prevent holiday weight gain is to exercise every day. Unless the weather is terrible, find reasons to walk daily, including walking with your family between the main course and dessert.

Start your resolution early.

People sabotage themselves by planning to get fit starting in January, leading to a diet tomorrow, indulge today mentality. Avoid this psychological trap, and give yourself the gift of an early start. Resolve to eat 50 percent more fruits and vegetables during the holidays and begin the year leaner.