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Avoid packing on pounds over the holidays

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"It's the most wonderful time of the year" is not just a popular holiday song. This time of year really is the best time of year to many people. The lights, presents, family, friends, songs, parties, food and all-around holiday spirit seems to put everyone into a joyous and festive mood. Normal everyday food with touches of "holiday" ingredients and superbly scrumptious presentations make for very enticing meals. Although not everyone gains weight over the holidays, there is no question people tend to eat and drink more- and exercise less. According to WebMD, "the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage." So here are 5 ways to help you avoid packing on that excess weight.

1. Plan ahead- If you have a mental outline of how much-- and what-- you are going to allow yourself to have, it will be a little easier to stay within those boundaries, instead of losing control at the first sight of all the goodies. For example, you can tell yourself that you will only have one plateful of food. And when you finish, no second helpings.

2. Sample everything- If you try to refrain from a certain food you are desiring, you are risking a binge later on. Try a small amount of everything to satisfy your cravings, and in the process, you may even reach satiety.

3. Eat slowly- It takes your brain about 20 minutes to receive the "signal" that your stomach is full. Therefore, if you tend to devour your meals, you may be eating more than what your body needs. Try to slow down and savor every bite of food instead.

4. Include fruits and veggies- Though fruits and vegetables don't tend to be the most appealing when paired up with hearty dishes and sweet deserts, try to incorporate them into your meal. They help fill you up and provide essential nutrients.

5. Drink water- So often it goes unnoticed, how drinks sneak in unwanted sugar and calories in enormous quantities. Just one can of Coke contains 140 calories a whopping 39 grams of sugar! That's equivalent to 10 1/2 teaspoons. And if you think that sticking to fruit drinks is healthier because it has "fruit" in it, guess again. Most fruit drinks contain just as much sugar as soda does. However, you can offset your caloric intake by replacing your sugary drink with water. It's healthier, natural, and your body will thank you in the long run!

These "rules" are good to live by not just for the holidays, but everyday. It will definitely help you manage a healthier lifestyle, which is something everybody should want to achieve. Enjoy!

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