Tips to Eliminating Holiday Weight

A few simple steps can stave off holiday weight gain.

Fine Magazine's holiday weight loss guide

’Tis the season to be jolly—a sentiment that seems to entail copious amounts of tempting desserts, savory hors d’oeuvres and festive drinks.

While it may feel like tradition, all these high-calorie refreshments can be potentially detrimental to your health. In fact, the average American will gain 5 to 7 pounds between Halloween and New Years. And through the years, this can add up quickly. Fear not! You can enjoy the holidays without the unexpected gift of love handles by following these simple steps.

Weight gain during the holiday season is not always dramatic, but getting rid of the extra pounds afterwards can be a real challenge.

The most important step is portion control. Several small meals throughout the day is ideal, and when you have to resort to unbuttoning your pants in order to shovel down one last piece of pumpkin pie, you may want to stop eating. Listen to your body and savor smaller portions throughout the day.

Next, avoid sugar. This may sound like a kamikaze mission during the holiday season, but it’s doable if you have the right tools. Many natural sugar alternatives are both healthy and delicious. The most popular substitute is applesauce. Apples are packed with natural sugars, fiber and vitamins. Simply replace sugar with equal parts applesauce, and you’ve got a healthier alternative.

Another sugar substitute is pureed bananas, which works exceptionally well with breads such as pumpkin or banana. Dried grapes are also packed with sugar. For a creative twist, blend a cup of raisins in a food processor. And If your recipe requires granulated sugar, try coconut sugar, which is made from the sap of coconut blossoms.

Avoiding sugar doesn’t have to be a chore. For example, these chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are so healthy, you can even eat them for breakfast. All you need is four ripe bananas, two cups of oats, four tablespoons of peanut butter or Nutella, and, if desired, one cup of dark chocolate chips. Mash up the bananas, then add the peanut butter or Nutella, followed by the oats and chocolate chips. Mix together, form into balls and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minuets. Just like that, you have a healthy treat that’s sure to cure your sweet tooth without any guilt.

For a signature crowd pleaser, try the rich blueberry cheesecake recipe here. It’s an amazing dish that guests can’t get enough of, and it’s not packed with fats, calories or sugar.

So you are now armed with the tools you need to avoid the dreaded holiday bulge. With these healthy tips, you will be lean and energized for the new year.