7 Simple Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Some of the most common downfalls of the holiday season are unwanted weight gain and stress. Who can resist the tempting and vast array of delicious foods that appear on our dining tables? And while the holidays are filled with loving friends and family, the heightened stress can encourage overeating.

It's certainly easy to indulge certain foods – especially rich 'comfort' foods such as hot, buttered rolls, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes with gravy. However, it is next to impossible to overeat raw apples!

Regardless of the choices you make in your diet this holiday season, keep these 7 tips in mind to help you avoid unwanted holiday weight gain:

Eat your protein first to help prevent rises in blood sugar and curb your appetite, then follow with complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruit and vegetables. This is perhaps the most important suggestion I can make because when your appetite is satisfied, you're less likely to overeat.

There are so many delicious foods to sample, many of them fattening. Allow yourself one or two bites of the foods that you know have a less healthy profile.

Several small meals are always preferable to one large meal, as even healthy foods can elevate blood sugar if too much is eaten at one time. Remember, the way to smooth, wrinkle-free skin and healthy weight is to maintain steady blood sugar levels.

Avoid coffee, as this can raise stress hormones. Switch to green tea instead, which has calming substances such as theanine and may help to relieve some of the stress.

Try to get some exercise in. Historically we not only blow our diets during the holidays, we also fall out of our exercise routine. But you’ll find that even just a brisk half hour walk will lower stress.

Don't skimp on sleep. Insufficient sleep is directly linked to the craving of high calorie, high fat foods!

Try these foods to enjoy as holiday appetizers:

  • Smoked salmon, trout, etc.
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Smoked oysters, mussels and clams
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Herring, trout or mackerel filets
  • Calamari
  • Caponata (eggplant appetizer)
  • Caviar
  • Escargot
  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Chopped chicken livers
  • Chicken or beef satay or teriyaki
  • Crudités (fresh raw vegetables)
  • Marinated vegetables
  • Salsa
  • All varieties of nuts and seeds. Don't buy mixed nuts in the can. Enjoy nuts in the shell—they are more healthful, and cracking open each one will slow down consumption

Wishing you happiness and good health this holiday season.

-Dr. Nicholas V. Perricone