Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips As much as we look forward to holiday parties and dinners, many of us fear enjoying it too much and packing upon the pounds. Indeed, the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And that doesnt include breakfast, lunch, or late-night snacking upon leftovers. Top Diet Stories of 2008: Readers' Choice Why are you gaining weight? Which foods are best for dieters? And what are the secrets of the "skinniest state"? Those topics are among the 10 most viewed diet stories upon WebMD for 2008. 5 Surprising Reasons You're Gaining Weight Slimming Tips From the Skinniest State 17 Best Foods for Dieters The Truth About Belly Fat The Truth Behind 10 Diet Myths Worst Diets Ever: Diets That Don't Work T... Read the Top Diet Stories of 2008: Readers' Choice article > > Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Year after year, those pounds can add up, and contribute to overweight or obesity later in life. Although we may not all gain weight over the holidays, there is no question we tend to eat and drink more -- and exercise less. With the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, parties and festive traditions, healthy eating and exercise are usually the first things to go. No one wants to be upon the strict diet during the holidays. We want to enj! oy the b ounty of traditional favorite foods. How can you enjoy the holidays without gaining weight? Dietitians say its not so hard, with the little planning. First, if youve been trying to lose weight, when mid-November rolls around, shift your focus from weight loss to weight maintenance. The holiday season is tough enough to just maintain your weight let alone try to lose weight. So do yourself the favor, says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, Boston University clinical assistant professor. Allow yourself the few treats and set your goal upon weight maintenance so you can enjoy the holiday foods and wait until the New Year to get back upon your weight loss plan. Second, if you are the host of dinners and parties, trim calories wherever you can without compromising tradition or flavor. Youll help everyone enjoy the bountiful food without packing upon the pounds. Keep in mind, experts say, it is much harder to lose weight than it is not to gain it in the first place. Here are 10 tips to lighten up your holiday meals. 1. Shop Smart for Healthy Holidays Plan your menu to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Consult the nutrition label to choose foods rich in nutrients but lower in fat, calories, and sugar. To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream. 2. Start the Party Light Most appetizers tend to be loaded with calories. And it is so easy to over eat them before the meal. Make it easier upon your guests by offering light and satisfying appetizers. For tempting yet healthy appetizers, offer shrimp cocktails, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, vegetables with the low-fat yogurt dip, or fresh fruit skewers.