It seems to happen every holiday season – you try to avoid overeating at family gatherings, office parties, and traditional meals, yet you wind up gaining unwanted weight. Sticking to a weight loss program can see so difficult during the holidays.

You may be glad to find out that you are not alone. Research shows that adults in the United States gain an average of one pound between mid-November and mid-January. Those who are already overweight or obese gain more weight during the holidays as compared with people of normal weight. In other words, if you are trying to lose weight during the holidays, you may be at special risk for actually gaining weight.

Being on a weight loss diet can take the cheer right out of even the merriest of the holidays. Denying yourself a big slice of pumpkin pie can be downright depressing, and rejecting your Aunt Betty’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar can cause a family riot.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can stick to your weight loss program and avoid unwanted weight gain this holiday season. In fact, you can even continue to lose weight during the holidays. Here are a few of the most effective weight loss tips that keep you feeling merry all season.

Tips for Losing Weight

1. Maintain your exercise schedule

Sitting on the couch watching sports and movies is becoming a major holiday tradition for many families. This inactivity can contribute to weight gain, particularly when you eat excessive amounts of high-calorie foods while you lounge. Maintain as close to your normal exercise routine as you can; squeeze in a little extra time doing fat-burning exercises, such as cycling, now and then.

2. Reduce stress

Exercise can also reduce stress, which is especially helpful during the holiday season. More than 60 percent of people feel stress during the holiday season, according to Harvard Medical School. Stress causes the release of cortisol, which can lead to weight gain.

3. Snack smart

From cookies to candy canes, sugary and fattening snacks seem to be everywhere during the holidays. Avoid temptation by snacking on healthy treats, such as fresh fruit and sugar-free foods. Keep fattening foods in the cupboard or refrigerator, and put healthy foods in plain view.

4. Watch your portion size

Sometimes eating calorie-rich, fattening foods is unavoidable during the holidays. Reduce your calorie intake by taking smaller portions. Measure your portions when you can, but use a few “rules of thumb” when you cannot use a scale or measuring cup. A 3-oz serving of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand, for example, while a healthy serving of vegetables should be about as big as your fist.

5. Maintain your normal schedule

Schedule your holiday activities around your normal routine whenever possible. Maintaining a normal schedule reduces stress and helps you preserve your regular eating and exercise routines.

6. Get plenty of dietary fiber

Dietary fiber is that indigestible component of plant and grains, of course, which means that your body does not absorb any calories from that fiber. Also known as “roughage,” dietary fiber also fills you up so you feel satisfied after a small meal. Dietary fiber provides the added benefit of keeping your digestive tract regular, so you feel less bloated.

7. Practice mindful eating

If you are like many people rushing through the holidays, you multitask through meals. Unfortunately, research shows that eating while distracted can lead to overeating. Mindful eating is the act of consuming food without distractions, of being aware of what you are eating. Eating mindfully may also include eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly, which may help you recognize your body’s signals of fullness so you consume fewer calories.

9. Get enough quality sleep

Between the shopping and holiday gatherings, you may not be getting enough sleep and sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. People who do not get enough sleep tend to feel hungrier, consume more calories and get less exercise. This may be because inadequate sleep may increase the hormones responsible for hunger. Sleep restriction can also lower metabolism, so the body does not burn fat and calories as well as it should.

10. Consult with your weight loss physician

For more information on holiday weight loss tips, consult with your weight loss physician. Your doctor can provide you with more hints and tips, specially designed with your personal weight loss goals and individual needs in mind. With a little help, you can avoid gaining weight this holiday season – and you may even lose a few pounds too.

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