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TIPS TO PREVENT HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN

(Active.com) The holidays are not a time of year to accept the inevitable weight gain. Now that we are officially engulfed in the holiday season follow these eight tips to keep your health on track.

Have the Celebration in Your Home
When you are in control of the menu, the portions and the ingredients, you are in control of your health. Guests always love the holiday classics, but try spicing it up a bit. Being creative and offering healthier choices can spark healthy conversations -- and impress your friends around the table.

Share Edible Gifts
Roasted edamame, curried chickpeas, spiced nuts and warm breads can all be prepared quickly. Wrap it up in pretty cloth and tie a recipe on it; it's always accepted with gratitude. These edible gifts will introduce the recipient to possibly a whole new world of healthy options.

Be a Rebel
Try a new recipe; something outside of your comfort zone. If you have never worked with a pomegranate before, then pick out a few recipes to try. If you are unsure about serving fish at a traditional meal, try it out. It shows creativity and offers your guests a new perspective.

Go Green
Serve and carry "no packaging needed" whole foods. This way you avoid clean up and you're sticking to the recommended plant based diet. Many studies have found that a diet abundant in whole, real foods is associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Lighten Up
Traditional dishes can pack in a tremendous amount of fat and calories, but lightening them up may even improve their flavor. Try using organic, cold pressed, canola oil, which has nearly half the saturated fat of traditional butter and it includes heart healthy omega 3's. Or, try substituting fat-free evaporated milk or, unsweetened coconut milk in place of heavy cream. Another option is to top entrees with warm fruit or vinaigrette in place of creamy sauces. Maybe try a vegetable puree that's made with water as a soup base. The smooth, creamy texture feels indulgent, and the pureed veggies provide a nutritional boost.

Stay in Control
Holiday weight gain is not as extreme as you may think. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine people may actually put on less than a pound from October to January. This doesn't give you any free passes. If holiday weight gain becomes a yearly tradition, the years can pack on many pounds and lead to trouble.

Research at Pennsylvania State University found that being around friends and family may cause people to indulge a little more freely. This study shows that dining in a group causes the average person to eat 44 percent more calories than they normally would eat alone.

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