Healthy holidays

Maybe you should put down that gingerbread man and pick up an apple instead?

The holidays are a time for meals with family and friends — and for some people, that means gaining weight.

New research by Cornell University found weight patterns in the United States begin rising at Thanksgiving and peak around Christmas and New Year’s. It takes about five months to lose holiday pounds, with weights typically stabilizing from May-November.

To keep the holiday pounds off, experts say focusing on moderation and portion control can help you watch your calorie intake at parties and gatherings.

Participating in at least 20 minutes of exercise per day or two-and-a-half hours per week can keep the additional pounds off. Exercise can include walking the dog, yoga or swimming.

Stress is another key contributor to holiday health pitfalls. Make sure you take time for yourself and avoid using food as a way to deal with stress.

The Wellness LiteBlue page and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site have additional information and health tips.