Studies show that most people will gain anywhere between one and three pounds over the holiday season. Nope, it’s not nearly as dramatic as you’d think, but those one to three pounds never seem to come off.

Let’s say you gain a mere two pounds over the holiday season. You splurged more than you should have, and barely noticed the weight gain. After all, two pounds really isn’t a lot of weight – and certainly no reason to panic. By next year, those two pounds are still there. The problem is you’ve gained another two pounds. After ten years of putting on two pounds annually, you’re up 20 pounds (or possibly more). Now it’s a big deal. What's happening is a term called "creeping obesity." It can actually happen at any time, but seems to hit people hard in November and December.

People gain weight for a lot of reasons. When it comes to the holidays, however, it’s easy to pinpoint the big offenders. If we overeat during any one holiday occasion, like Thanksgiving, it’s possible we’ll gain a little weight, but “special holiday food” is in our face each and every day. Below are five foods that can easily make holiday weight gain an annual tradition if you’re not careful.

After you’ve scanned the list, here is a five-step approach to avoiding holiday weight gain.

Peppermint Mochas (and any other froufrou drink at the coffee shop)
Grande/Medium (16 oz): 410 calories; 15g fat; 54g sugar
Starbucks, you’re hard to resist over the holidays – especially when you give us a 2-for-1 froufrou drink special.  If the only type of drink you order in a Starbucks is a high calorie, high sugar drink like a Peppermint Mocha, I can guarantee you’re hanging on to extra weight because of it – even if it’s only two drinks a week. What’s more, if you find them irresistible, it’s probably the sugar that’s pulling you back. If you’re hooked, or tempted to splurge for the holidays, try to resist or shift to

Mixed Nuts
¼ c: 170 calories; 16g fat
In no way am I blacklisting mixed nuts – I think they’re fantastic and every one should eat them…daily. These healthy nuggets tend to come out in full force over the holidays and it’s easy to over serve yourself. One serving, a quarter cup, should fit easily into the palm of your hand. If you eat two servings, you’ve just packed away about 340 calories and 38 grams of fat. We need healthy fats from nuts, but there is no need to get all you daily fat in one sitting. Raw, unsalted nuts are always the best for you. Nuts lose most of the “good-for-you” properties when they’re roasted.

1 slice (1/8 of a 9” pie)
Pumpkin: 300 calories
Apple: 350 calories
Pecan: 470 calories
Who doesn’t love pie over the holidays? It’s ok to enjoy desserts here and there, especially if they’re homemade, but know where to draw the line. Want to try every pie on the table? Make it a sliver, not an entire slice. Help your body to avoid some sugar shock by leaving the crust and whipped cream on the plate.  

Egg Nog
1 cup (8 oz): 340 calories; 18g fat; 40g sugar
Categorized as sugar on the nutrition facts, most conventional commercial brands pump egg nog full of high fructose corn syrup. Low fat versions are available, but the sugar is still sky high. Have you ever made your own egg nog? Here is a great recipe that’s easy and delicious.

Savory Starches
75 – 200+ calories
Broadly categorized, savory starches include mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, rolls, rice, pasta, etc. The reason I wanted to include this is because it’s easy to fill up a plate with bread and potatoes. They’re not necessarily big in the calories department, but tend to be low in nutrients and a blood sugar killer.