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KNOXVILLE — Worried that Santa might not be the only rotund figure this holiday season?

With most Americans gaining at least a couple of pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it seems that holiday weight gain has become a national tradition.

However, unwanted weight gain doesn’t have to be part of the holidays.

Carol Costello, professor of retail, hospitality and tourism management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, teaches nutrition and is the program director for a study on childhood obesity. Here, she offers a few tricks to help avoid unwanted pounds:

1. Keep exercising –- The holidays are hectic, and people often feel too busy to exercise. But exercising should be a priority, because it helps people to maintain a healthy weight. Walking, raking leaves or going for a bike ride are all great ways to relieve stress and incorporate exercise into the holiday season.

2. Avoid office food –- When cakes, cookies and candy are readily available, people have a tendency to eat them, even if they are not hungry. Also, if food has been sitting out for too long, it may no longer be safe to eat.

3. Plan ahead –- Plan ahead to avoid ordinary temptations. Deciding beforehand to have one small piece of cake, but nothing else, can help people avoid going overboard at the dessert buffet.

4. Balance food intake –- Before a holiday party or a big meal, remember to exercise and eat less at other meals throughout the day.

5. Control portion sizes –- Regular portions are usually much smaller than portions in restaurants. People can enjoy higher-calorie foods without gaining weight, but it is important to remember to eat in moderation.

6. Prepare healthier fare –- Many holiday recipes can be prepared using healthier ingredients and cooking methods. Commit to preparing at least one lighter alternative, such as lower-fat gravy, mashed potatoes without sour cream and cheese, or fruit pie instead of pecan pie.

7. Eat until full, not stuffed –- People tend to overeat during the holidays, but it is better to eat until comfortably full, rather than until overfull and sleepy.

8. Set goals –- Setting reasonable goals can help people to avoid holiday pitfalls. Deciding to exercise four days a week or not eat sweets at the office are great ways to keep from being enticed.


Amy Blakely, UT media relations, (865) 974-5034,