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Tips to maintain your weight through the holidays

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- With the holidays fast approaching, events surrounding food will be on the rise. Whether it’s office parties, after-hour get-togethers or gatherings of family and friends, food tends to be a priority.

The average person gains weight every holiday season. Most people do not lose the weight gained and repeat the cycle yearly.

In January, losing weight is often a New Year’s resolution. What can you do to decrease weight gain during the holiday season?

Take smaller portions, eat slowly and savor the taste. After a meal, allow time for the food to settle, preventing overeating.

In addition, look for healthy substitutions. Use low-fat or nonfat, plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream versus the regular version. An ounce of sour cream has about 60 calories, whereas an ounce of combined nonfat Greek yogurt and sour cream has only 25.

White turkey meat has about 40 percent less calories and half the fat when compared to dark meat. Replace traditional gravy with a low-fat gravy version, using one cup of fat-free turkey broth, two tablespoons of flour and seasonings to taste.

Side dishes can hide sugars and calories. Candied yams have about 215 calories per half cup, but compared to 3/4 cup roasted sweet potatoes brushed with olive oil, about 100 calories. Instead of traditional green bean casserole, choose green beans alone.

Eat vegetables first as they are lower in calories and will help fill you up so you will eat less of the higher caloric foods. A dinner roll can add almost 200 calories, so skipping them may leave room for that piece of pie.

Lastly, be careful of empty calories, which are calories containing no nutrients. One of the easiest ways to dodge empty calories is to limit alcohol consumption. By replacing just two of five ounces of red wine with club soda saves 60 calories. Regular beer contains about 150 calories per 12 ounces compared to light beer containing 50-100.

A single slice of pecan pie can be upwards of 500 calories whereas pumpkin pie is about 300. With pumpkin pie, you get vitamin A, calcium and iron to lessen the guilty pleasure. You can always skip the crust completely since this is where most of the fat resides and save another 100 calories.

Enjoy the food and social gatherings but do not let a couple meals throw you off your wellness goals. Maintain your exercise regimen and be mindful that whatever extra you put into your body will result in additional time in the gym or a longer run to work off.

If you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. Make a plan to get back on track. Use resources like the fitness center and health promotions.