OH-Blog Logo

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain — Without Feeling Restricted

Infographic with 8 tips to help avoid holiday weight gain

The holidays are here! Which means it’s time to eat, drink and be merry, right? But, what if you’re working on getting healthier? Is it possible to have your “holiday” cake and eat it too while still staying on track?

The answer is YES.

Check out the tips below from Registered Dieticians Jessica VanCleave, MPH, RD, LD; Emily Monfiletto, RD, LD, CCMS; Alyssa Bixler, MS, RD, LD, CDE; Jenalee Richner, RD, LDN; and Brittany Smith, RD, LD, to help you navigate the cookies and the cocktails with little to no weight gain.

Eat breakfast. Oh, and have lunch, too!

Sometimes it may seem like a good idea to skip breakfast or lunch to “save” those calories to indulge later at a holiday party or dinner. But, when you do skip meals, you’ll likely become overly hungry later, which could lead to consuming in excess foods and beverages that are high in calories with little to no nutritional value.

Try eating foods rich in nutrients, like an omelet with spinach for breakfast or a chicken and kale salad for lunch. And, plan to have a healthy snack before you leave so you can still enjoy some holiday treats without overdoing it. Click here for some healthy grab-and-go snack ideas.

Check out that buffet before grabbing a plate

Before you take a little of this, and a little of that, all the way down the buffet table, survey your options first. Make loading up on veggie dishes your first stop, then take smaller portions of those high-calorie foods. And, simply skip those dishes you don’t care for.

Listen to your body when it says “I’m full” and avoid going back for seconds.

Avoid those BLTs (bites, licks and tastes). We think by just trying a little of this and a little of that, we save on calories when really each tiny nibble can clock in at around 25 calories a piece.

Bring the healthy option for the holiday potluck

Instead of bringing mac & cheese or the pumpkin pie, opt for a healthier choice. Try a fresh fruit platter or veggie tray with hummus or homemade ranch dip. Your fellow pot-luckers and waistline will thank you – chances are, you aren’t the only one trying to ward off the weight gain this holiday season. Click here for some healthy holiday recipes.

Give away those leftovers

What’s more tempting than having treats and high-calorie foods readily available in our fridge the days after a get-together? Buy storage containers and send leftovers home with friends and loved ones. Those tasty temptations will be out of sight, out of mind.

Can we talk about beverages?

With the holidays, often comes the eggnog and sugar-bomb cocktails. Swap these high-calorie options with the healthy ones below.

  • Try a spritzer! Combine 3 oz. of white wine, 1 oz. of sparkling water or club soda and garnish with a slice of lemon or lime. More of a red wine fan? Top 2 oz. of red wine over ice with sparkling club soda and garnish with fresh citrus fruit slices. Either option has only about 75 calories each.
  • Drink water – but spice it up: Add sliced fruit, veggies or herbs and spices to water. It will feel more indulgent than plain water, but without loads of extra sugar and calories. Click here for some easy recipe ideas.

Listen to your body

Are you hungry or just craving? Well, how do you know? Try this simple trick: Pick up your favorite fruit or vegetable and ask yourself, “Does this sound good right now?” If the answer is no, even though you typically would enjoy the item, that means you are craving a treat. If the answer is yes, chances are, you’re hungry.

Squeeze in that exercise

Try to get in at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day. Not only does this increase energy levels and burns calories, but helps combat holiday stressors … and we all know that the holidays often bring stress.

Try a fitness challenge with friends or ask a friend or loved one to help hold you accountable. It’s often easier to stick with your plan if someone else knows what you are working on. They’ll encourage you when you need it, and often join in, making it more fun for everyone.

Press the reset button

Just because you overdid it at last night’s holiday party or have found yourself saying yes to a week of holiday treats at the office, that doesn’t mean you have to stick with that pattern. Think about your goals. Pause, breathe and press that reset button.

And remember…

…it’s a “holiDAY”, not a “holiMONTH”.  Enjoy special foods on the day but be mindful of opportunities to overeat other times during the season.  There are 117 meals from Thanksgiving day to New Year’s day – that’s a lot of opportunities for healthy eating or extra eating.

Looking for extra help with your nutrition? Check out our classes and events!

related articles