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How to Keep the Weight at Bay this Holiday Season

Nov 29, 2013 01:41 PM EST

Holiday season is weight gain season, with the average American gaining between 1-2 pounds during this time of year alone, according to researchers from Saint Louis University, which is why they've teamed up to compile a number of approaches individuals can in order to keep the weight at bay while still enjoying themselves.

First on the list: be picky, says Amy Moore, an assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics  Focus on the food items that aren't available all year round, whether its limited edition peppermint ice cream or your mom's once-a-year fudge, and skip over the brownies and soda. Along those same lines, Moore suggests managing portion sizes by being mindful of what you consume and planning ahead for a dinner party by opting for a healthier breakfast and lunch.

For those looking to cut out as many calories as possible, Moore recommends focusing on catching up on friends and family away from the buffet table and substituting water for eggnog or a glass of wine. As a bonus, water is good for your digestive system, skin, muscles and kidneys, she notes.

When it comes to exercising during the holiday season, Ethel Frese, an associate professor of physical therapy and athletic training, said it's important to establish a plan and not use increased activity as an excuse to eat anything. For example, eating a 350-calorie pastry on top of your normal daily calorie intake is the equivalent of roughly an hour of exercise if you hope to burn it off.

Exercise doesn't haven't to just take the form of running, however. Spending the day at the mall walking from store to store, cleaning up the house, putting up decorations or shoveling snow are all good ways to burn extra calories.

Most important, Moore says, is managing a healthy diet in addition to a regular exercise plan.

"Even the healthiest eaters need to exercise and the best exercisers need nutrition," Moore said. "Nutrition and exercise provides the one-two punch of holiday weight management."

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