It’s no secret that many Americans gain a few pounds during the holiday season. Family gatherings, parties, high-calorie beverages, holiday eating and extra sweets make it hard to stay the course when healthy eating is your goal.

Obesity increases health risks because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among others.

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Those who are committed to meeting weight loss goals can get through the celebrations without feeling deprived, according to healthcare providers at the Abrazo Health Medical and Surgical Weight Loss program.

Katie Duncan MD, medical director of Obesity Medicine at Abrazo Scottsdale Campus.

Katie Duncan MD, medical director of Obesity Medicine at Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, offers a few tips for getting through the holidays.

“Eat a light meal high in protein before you go to the party. If you arrive hungry, you’re more likely to make poor food decisions,” said Dr. Duncan. “When you’re snacking, use a small plate to encourage smaller portion sizes. Small portions mean you are less likely feel deprived.”

The holidays mean lots of tempting foods, but fill your plate with veggies first to help feel full.

Consider what you are drinking. “The average glass of wine has about 150 calories, which means that you’ll need to eat that many fewer calories of food. Another option would be to add an extra mile of steps to your exercise routine on the days you know you’re going to imbibe,” she said.

Decide before you go whether you’re going to sample the sweets. Moderation is key with all the cookies, pies and cakes around the holidays. If you choose to forgo dessert, stay as far away from the dessert table as possible, said Dr. Duncan.

Parties and rich foods are part of the holidays and enjoying time with family and friends. But if you happen to eat or drink more than you told yourself you would, the good news is you can always start fresh the next day. With a few strategies and commitment to maintaining a healthy weight, you’ll have even more reason to celebrate.

The holidays are often a time when people struggling with obesity seek professional advice on the right course for achieving weight loss, said Dr. Duncan.

“Help is available. An obesity medicine specialist can guide you through an evaluation for medical problems related to weight, screen for eating disorders, evaluate behaviors related to eating, review stress and sleep patterns, and other testing,” she explained. “After an evaluation, you receive evidence-based counseling on how to optimize your nutrition, physical activity and treatment options.”

For more information on the Abrazo Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Program, visit