Health & Wellness

Worried about holiday weight gain? Try these party eating tips

For years, it was reported that the average American gains roughly seven to ten pounds over the holidays.

Turns out that’s not exactly accurate.

“That number may be inflated … as people consume more carbohydrates, baked goods and imbibe more frequently leading to bloat and water retention, but the average weight gain of pure fat is anywhere from two to five pounds,” says Catherine Hauser, MPH, RD, dietitian at F-Factor Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in Manhattan.

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Decorated star and heart cookies on green paper Christmas cookies stock photo

And don't expect any weight gained during the holiday season to just disappear after New Years, either.

“The scariest part of this number is that few people lose the weight after the holidays are over, contributing to weight creep over time.”

RELATED: 7 healthier food choices to make at holiday parties

Indeed, for those watching their weight, the holidays are fraught with hard choices. A half glass of egg nog or two white wine spritzers? Dive into the cookie plate and spend an hour at the gym in the A.M., or stick to fresh fruit and sleep in?

The good news? You can enjoy the holidays and still fit into your New Years Eve dress by following a few key strategies, none of which involve cutting out entire food groups.

Have a party eating plan

The trick is to have a plan for how you'll eat before and at all those holiday parties.

Adjust your eating throughout the day

If you have an after-work party to attend, plan your meals and snacks accordingly so your evening indulgence is balanced out by lighter meals during the day, and you are in the right mindset to treat yourself.

“Plan ahead to ensure that the rest of your day follows a healthy eating plan providing you with plenty of vegetables, lean protein, and a serving of fruit,” says Hauser.

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Christmas cinnamon cookies icing decorating process with a pastry bag; Shutterstock ID 149082284; PO: today.com

RELATED: Get creative with your holiday diet

Get plenty fiber and protein

“Keeping your diet on track with fiber and protein outside of a special occasion will prevent you from feeling ravenous and craving refined carbohydrates, and allows an indulgence to remain a special occasion not the new normal.”

Break the buffet into two strategic trips

Once you're at the party, cruise the buffet table to see what’s available. Plan you meal in two trips — one for appetizers and one for dinner. Also, remember to pause between each course to give your brain time to register fullness.

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Holiday cookies make a delicious, handmade gift.

Focus on the right foods

When filling your plate, “focus on what you should eat at the buffet table instead of the foods to avoid. Go for a broth-based soup or salad as a starter, or fill up your plate with veggies — fresh crudité or roasted vegetables — and lean proteins such as shrimp cocktail or the lean meats on the charcuterie platter," says Hauser.

RELATED: 3 creative holiday cookie recipes from TODAY viewers

Yes, you can eat dessert

Linzer Torte calling your name?

Take a small slice, but stick to three bites, giving you a first, middle and last taste. This allows you to enjoy a small dessert without overeating.

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