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The #1 Best Way to Avoid Weight Gain This Month, Says Dietitian

Keep this in mind when you hit those holiday parties!

Holiday seasons every year are always filled with splendid foods and festive celebrations. While you enjoy all the festivities and savor the togetherness during this season, it's also important to be aware of healthy consumption and avoid excessive weight gain.

That may sound like a daunting thought to you at first, but it doesn't have to steal away from the joy of family gatherings at all. Dietitians believe that there are quite a few easy ways to keep away from weight gain, such as not skipping meals before a gigantic holiday dinner, or just by getting enough rest.

In fact, one other great way to avoid weight gain during the holiday season comes not through being concerned with what you eat, but rather by simply being aware of your drinking habits.

"If we choose to drink, we need to be mindful of the number of alcoholic beverages we have," says Jennifer Bruning, RDN, LDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the director of Nutrition & Brand Innovation at Incite Strategic Partners.

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But why should you be concerned with alcohol intake's effects on weight gain? According to Bruning, there are two main reasons.

First of all, alcohol lowers your inhibitions. In the world of eating, decreased inhibition translates to more consumption. If you've had a few more drinks at a meal, that might lead to you grabbing a plate or two more than usual as well.

On the other hand, while alcoholic drinks may seem harmless in the weight gain realm by themselves, having a few extra could lead to notable weight gain as you wrap up the holiday season.

Many people don't realize that alcoholic drinks are packed with calories. Pure alcohol contains seven calories per gram, which is almost double the amount of calories per gram in carbohydrates and is close to the calorie content in a gram of fat.

"People often blame carbohydrates for weight issues, but we need to look at the whole picture of what we consume," says Bruning. "Alcohol does have a hefty calorie content to it."

To avoid weight gain, Bruning recommends no more than a moderate intake of alcohol per day, especially if your holiday festivities last several days: one drink for women, two drinks for men. One drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce can of beer, a glass of wine, or one shot of hard liquor.

"I think it's a much lower threshold than many people realize," says Bruning. "[The] holidays can be an indulgent time when some of the wheels come off, so this is important to keep in mind."

For even more drinking tips, read these next:

Daphne Yao
Daphne is a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University who specializes in health, environmental, and science reporting. Read more about Daphne