BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Contrary to popular belief, the average American only gains about a pound over the holiday season. But that extra pound usually stays with us. Year after year, those pounds add up, increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Instead of making a resolution on Dec. 31 to hit the gym, it might be a better idea to avoid that pound in the first place with an ounce of prevention.

“With planning and a little bit of discipline, we can prevent that holiday weight gain and some of the chronic conditions that are associated with being overweight,” said Tammy Roberts, University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist.

For your health, Roberts suggests these tips for eating as you approach the holiday season:

  • When you go through a buffet line, take small portions. Then stay far away from the food table and eat slowly.
  • When you go to a party, bring your favorite low-calorie dish.
  • If you are going to a gathering where you know there will be a lot of food, plan on filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • Think fun! It is fun to get outside and go for a brisk walk or go to the skating rink or bowling alley. Plan an outdoor scavenger hunt for the family. These activities will all help burn those holiday calories.

“If you make a plan for your holiday eating and add some activity, you shouldn’t have to worry about even one pound of weight gain,” Roberts said.

For more information from MU Extension on food and fitness, including feature articles, recipes and learning opportunities, see

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