Newswise — The countdown for the holidays is on and so is the calorie-counting. “For many, the fear of gaining weight is significantly greater than the actual number of pounds that may accrue at holiday time,” says Lauren Zuro, registered dietician at Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “Many of my patients are on long-term weight-loss programs and have become accustomed to the eating and exercise routine and the regular weigh-in that shows a loss.”

Zuro prepares patients well in advance of eating events and helps tailor strategies and realistically manage expectations. “If a patient misses a workout, attends a special dining event or gets out of their healthy comfort zone, they mistakenly feel they have not accomplished anything or that they have gained weight if they do not actually lose weight,” she says. “Maintaining a weight loss, or minimizing weight gain, especially during a food-intensive, stressful time, is a major accomplishment.”

Zuro regularly counsels weight-loss patients at Loyola and specializes in bariatrics, or weight-loss medicine.

Here are tips from Zuro on how you can positively experience the holidays without sacrificing good nutrition:

1. Never go to a holiday party hungry. You will over-eat. Have a protein-based snack (i.e. a half turkey sandwich, Greek yogurt, string cheese, quarter cup cottage cheese and fruit) before going and this will keep you from eating overeating appetizers, chips, etc.

2. Select more vegetables and fruit options at parties. Vegetable platters are a common appetizer and fresh fruit is usually offered on dessert tables.

3. Use smaller plates (appetizer size) when selecting food items for meals. Fill your plate with “taste” amounts. This way you get a chance to taste many dishes, but not over-consume calories. Remember to enjoy what you are eating. Eat , eat slowly. Savor the flavors of the different dishes.

4. Consume water or other sugar-free beverages. By avoiding sugary or alcoholic beverages and high-fat beverages (egg nog) you will save on calories.

5. Remember the reason why you are getting together with family and friends during the holidays: not to eat, but to enjoy their company and share in the ambiance of the season! Make sure to catch up with family or friends you may not be able to see often and enjoy the time you get to spend with everyone! The Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care is designated a Level 1 facility under the Bariatric Surgery Center Network (BSCN) Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). To achieve this accreditation, Loyola had to meet a number of rigorous institutional performance measures.

Since opening on July 10, 2012, at Loyola’s Maywood campus, a multidisciplinary team of bariatric-certified professionals including surgeons, psychologists, dieticians, exercise physiologists and physicians has cared for hundreds of morbidly obese men, women and children. Surgical procedures offered by Loyola include laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

Free information sessions and more can be found at or by calling (800) 355-0416.