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I was just reading the other day that, on average, Americans gain a pound every year from late November to early January. That might not seem like a huge deal, but that’s only over the span of about a month and a half. And most people generally don’t lose that extra weight in the following months. So by the time you’re hitting your 10 year reunion—at bare minimum—you’re sitting 10 pounds heavier. Can you see why obesity is such an epidemic in America? 

We’ve talked before, but it’s worth stating again that obesity leads to all sorts of health issues. It can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, cancer and strokes. Yikes. But it doesn’t just take a toll on your physical health. It’s also linked to depression, anxiety, distorted body image, and low self-esteem. It’s a BIG concern.

I say all that, because it’s important to know WHY we talk about it so often. Why trying to avoid gaining weight over the holidays is so important. Not because we don’t want anyone to have fun or enjoy themselves. Far from it. What we actually want is for people to be able to have the longest and fullest life possible. That’s harder when you’re battling chronic pain and disease.

Let’s take a look at a few ways to avoid putting on the pounds during the holidays.

PLAN PLAN PLAN. Throughout the holidays, sweets and high fat foods are EVERYWHERE. During the rest of the year, you’ll find at least one veggie tray at a potluck. It doesn’t seem to be that way in the holiday season. There’s not a healthier alternative to be seen! So you’ve got to get ahead of the game. If it’s potluck style, bring a healthy dish to share! Then you’re covered knowing you’ve got at least one thing you can eat! If it’s not, make sure you don’t arrive hungry. That’ll only lead to poor choices and wanting to nap after dinner.

On that same note, if you know you’re going to be attending an event where you can’t bring your own food, plan it into your day. Maybe a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad with lots of lean protein for lunch. Then, when you get to dinner, you know you’ve got a little wiggle room.

AN OPEN BAR IS PROBABLY NOT A GREAT IDEA. In case you haven’t heard, calories in drinks actually do count (I know, mind blown!) And those calories usually c