How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

PHOTO: Here are some tips on how to avoid unwanted holiday weight gain.
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Waiting until Janurary 1 to set a weight-loss resolution is a fat man's mistake. If you hope to have a flat belly in 2013, then you need to buckle down now.

The average American gains about 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's, according to a Tufts University study. And if you're overweight or obese, then that number can exceed 5 pounds.

Even worse, "people don't generally lose the weight they put on," says Betty Kovacs, M.S., R.D., codirector of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center's weight-loss program. "Those pounds just accumulate over the years."

That means much of the weight you gain as the years pass can be blamed on holiday cocktails and candy bowls.

Don't be fooled by these 6 Healthy Sounding Foods That Aren't

Manage Your Carb Cravings

Halloween candy is the first wave in a season defined by its carbohydrate come-ons. For the next 2 months you'll be lured by cookies, pie, stuffing, dinner rolls, and gingerbread houses.

Resist by switching to a low-carb diet right now. In a recent Temple University study, obese people who cut back on carbohydrates found themselves less likely to crave sweets and other high-carb foods. Avoiding such fare can also make you feel less bothered or distracted by hunger, researchers found, so for the next couple of months, limit your bread and pasta to special occasions only.

Eat This: Tootsie Rolls (4 pieces = 93 cal, 2 g fat, 13 g sugars)

Not That: Brach's Milk Maid Caramels (4 pieces = 150 cal, 4 g fat, 15 g sugars)

Don't let candy cavities become your enemy. Avoid these 12 Foods Your Dentist Wouldn't Eat.

Boycott Kitschy-Sounding Food

Shortly after Halloween, you'll notice the first wave of holiday-themed foods: desserts drizzled with cinnamon glaze, candy wrappers decorated with snowmen, and special menus promoting limited-time foods. In the ensuing weeks, this will only become worse.

Case in point: Last holiday season, IHOP rolled out its Eggnog Pancakes, which, at 2,150 calories for four, were nearly twice as bad as the chain's second-worst pancake option. Similarly, at 760 calories, the holiday-themed Reese's Peanut Butter Snowman has more than 3 1/2 times the calories of a regular two-pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; and at 630 calories, the Warm Cinnamon Swirl Muffin on the Dunkin' Donuts holiday menu has nearly a third more sugar than the average year-round muffin. You can find less fattening ways to celebrate.

Drink This: Starbucks Cappuccino with 2 pumps of peppermint syrup (16 oz with 2% milk = 160 cal, 4 g fat, 20 g sugars)

Not That: Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha (16 oz with 2% milk and whipped cream = 520 cal, 18 g fat, 75 g sugars)

The holidays don't have to wreck your waistline. Know The Best and Worst Holiday Foods.

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More from Men's Health:

125 Best Foods For Men

The 2012 Men's Health Holiday Gift Guide

11 Ways to Ease a Nasty Hangover

How to Stay Thin This Holiday Season

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