A study from the New England Journal of Medicine reported that most Americans gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Maybe the most surprising part about that is that it's just a pound.

But that single pound can cause lasting damage. "Putting on a pound or so every year makes a big difference when you never get around to losing it," says Pat Vasconcellos, a Massachusetts-based spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Completely avoiding sweets, fatty foods and alcoholic drinks is probably out of the question—but a smart plan can make a huge difference in limiting empty calories. Before you start piling up your plate at a dinner or party, scan the whole spread and make smart choices. Even though it's a holiday, all of the healthy food rules still apply. When possible, stick to whole grains, lightly-dressed green salad and lower-fat white turkey meat. And make sure to drink plenty of water.

Looking for healthier alternatives to your favorite holiday treats? Try Men's Health magazine's Eat This, Not That guide to the holidays.


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