by Sheila Goldberg, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

The holiday season can be a difficult time to keep the extra weight off. Being able to resist the temptations that lurk at holiday parties and family get-togethers isn’t easy, but a few simple tips and reminders may help avoid weight gain during the holidays:

  • Don’t skip meals. Going to a party on an empty stomach could cause you to graze on unhealthy hors d’oeuvres and overeat before dinner is even served. Have a quick and healthy snack before you leave the house, like sliced apples or celery sticks with peanut butter.
  • Drink water. Dehydration can cause you to feel hungry, so be sure to consume at least six to eight glasses of water every day.
  • Control portions. Smaller plates tend to lead to smaller portions, meaning fewer calories to consume. This also avoids the obligation of having to finish everything on your plate. Try a small sampling of what’s been prepared and savor each bite.
  • Be selective with sweets. Desserts made with graham cracker crusts are generally lower in fat than the traditional homemade pie crusts. And if you can’t resist trying both the pumpkin and apple pies, take a smaller slice of each.
  • Avoid liquid calories. Alcohol is perhaps the biggest contributor to weight gain during the holiday season – especially the sugary, carbonated beverages – as it has nearly twice as many calories as carbohydrates or protein.

Healthy cooking tips

If you’re the one doing the cooking or making a dish to share, use these simple swaps and modifications to make your holiday recipes healthier without sacrificing flavor:

  • Use 1% or fat-free (skim) milk instead of whole or 2% milk.
  • Season with herbs and spices instead of butter.
  • Try tub margarine instead of butter. Look for a spread that doesn’t have trans fats and has the least amount of saturated fat.
  • Reduce fat and calories by using low-fat or light mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese and dressings.
  • Substitute two egg whites for one egg.
  • Try frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.

For other healthy eating and recipe tips, visit

Or, consider adding this cool app called Zipongo to your smartphone. It’s a great resource that helps people make healthier meal decisions.

Simple ways to get exercise

It’s also important to stay physically active this time of year. Use the stairs at work, walk an extra lap when holiday shopping or take a parking spot that’s farther away to an entrance. Just because you can’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in exercise during the day.