Beat Holiday Weight Gain


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  16 comments   :  12,849 Views

From our partners at Woman's Day

Turkey and cookies and pie, oh my! Seasonal treats start coming around Halloween and don't let up until the new year.

But you can make it through these months without packing on the pounds—and still enjoy those holiday parties!

Here, find a few simple tip to help keep the weight off this season.

  1. Be Realistic
    "Don't worry about losing weight during the holidays," says Dan Smith, one of the authors behind Talk With Your Mouth Full: The Hearty Boys Cookbook. "You don't need any added pressure. Focus on maintaining your weight."
  2. Have a Plan
    Be sure to schedule in time for meals and have healthy foods around. "It not only makes things easier, but you'll be able to choose things that are still flavorful and will satisfy you," says Dan.
  3. Take Two
    "You get the most flavor impact within the first two bites," says Steve McDonagh, the other half of The Hearty Boys. "Take a bite and pass it on. It's about portion control—it doesn't have to be about abstaining."
  4. Eat
    Avoid going to parties on an empty stomach. "You'll find yourself starving and beeline to the food," says Ris Lacoste, corporate chef at Rock Creek, a restaurant in Washington, DC, that's dedicated to providing diners with lower-calorie, lowfat, low-cholesterol gourmet cuisine. If you want to sample the party fare, a full meal before you go is unnecessary. Instead, snack on some fruit or veggies. And don't skip breakfast—it kick-starts your metabolism for the whole day.
  5. Stock the Pantry
    Keep fruit and other healthy snacks like yogurt with sliced almonds, air-popped popcorn and olives—things that you like. "Eating a bag of grapes is better than a bag of chips," says Ris.
  6. Don't Be a Dip
    "Dip and cheese are the staples for so many events," says Steve. "Eat the dip with fruit or celery, not crackers. And try the cheese without a cracker. Of course, be careful with dips. You're thinking, 'Look at me, I'm eating carrots,' but you've got full-fat blue cheese. Look for healthier hummus and salsas."
  7. Try Yogurt
    Skip the mayo-based dips. "I use nonfat yogurt, Dijon mustard and a little salt, pepper and Tabasco as a dip or instead of mayo for my chicken or egg salad," says Ris. You can also use yogurt to thicken sauces or instead of creams in soups. "Whole-fat yogurt still has far fewer calories than cream."
  8. Bake It
    "We do a lot of deep frying during the holidays, but you can bake a lot of the same dishes," says Dan, who bakes his shrimp and scallop cakes to lighten them up.
  9. Veg Out
    "Use vegetable purées as thickeners," says Lacoste, who says puréed sunchokes make a great sauce thickener. "It gives you the rich feeling without the fat. Using vegetable stocks or purees is a lot lighter than meat stocks and cream thickeners."
  10. Cut the Fat
    "People use a lot more butter and spray to coat pans than is really needed," says Steve. Instead, coat the pan with one pass with a frozen stick of butter. It won't melt as fast, keeping you from using too much butter. If you're using a spray, five seconds is all you need.
  11. Swap Smart
    Use good-for-you oils like sunflower and olive oil. With your baked goods, use applesauce instead of oil. "It keeps things moist and doesn't affect the flavor," says Dan.
  12. Stay Sweet
    "If you're making pastry, it's hard to not use butter or whole fats," says Ris, who recommends lightening up desserts with Whey Low, a natural sugar substitute with 75 percent less calories than sugar. "You can do all of your baking with it. You substitute it one for one with sugar."
  13. Sip Diet Sodas
    When making cocktails, use diet sodas or tonic water. With so many flavored vodkas and other liquors you don't have to sacrifice taste. "Of course, remember drinking carbonated beverages speeds up your alcohol intake," says Ris. "You have to be judicious in your pours."
  14. Hydrate
    Alternate a glass of wine or a cocktail with a glass of water. It will keep you hydrated and slow down your alcohol consumption.
  15. Strategize
    Know yourself before you walk into a party. If you're susceptible to something like desserts, skip the alcohol. If you love a glass of wine, avoid dessert. Cutting one thing helps with moderation.

Related links:
Joy Bauer's Guide to Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday Party Survival Guide

Quick Fixes for Common Holiday Stressors

What's your best tip to ward off holiday weight loss?

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  • 16
    Yes, yes, yes!!! This is what I'm trying to do, build a plan to succeed at what I call a Healthier life, which incidentally includes losing weight. I'm also taking small steps, one day at a time, knowing that taking on too much or setting too high a goal will only lead to failure for me. Thank you for writing this. - 3/9/2015   1:48:19 PM
  • 15
    ok this one is actually cool i shared it on facebook cause it might be cool to see how many will even try i saw stuff i even have to try - 12/22/2010   10:11:08 AM
  • 14
    I'll be doing most of the food shopping for Christmas. This year I have made a point of talking to the people who will be here with me and asking what they want. Nobody wants the traditional mince pies so we won't be buying them. In previous years they sat unopened until mid-January and were eaten just to get rid of them. Not anymore. I will be stocking up on lots of veg and fruit this year. - 12/7/2010   2:57:55 PM
  • 13
    None of my family likes the healthy options. When I bring them they see it as an insult that they can not cook so I have to bring my own. Then I feel bad. I stop bringing stuff but it is so hard for me because one thing I am really struggling with still is portion control. Once I can kick that then I I will be able to do anything!!!
    I know it's no excuse because I am sure they really don't care but it really feels like they do. - 12/7/2010   8:52:38 AM
  • 12
    Portion Control !! and Healthy Choices !! - 12/6/2010   11:52:29 PM
  • 11
    Don't go out your food plan just because it is the "Holidays." I read the "BECK Diet Solution" which isn't a "Diet" but how to think like a THIN person. Thanks, Judith Beck, PhD. - 12/6/2010   4:58:08 PM
  • 10
    Make a plan to lose weight...or at least maintain. So far so good for me! Made it through Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, & 2 parties!

    Haven't met goal to drop 5#'s by Jan. 1st, 2011.
    ...I'm keeping up with exercise regularly! ...just not enough calorie deficit to lose! - 12/6/2010   4:58:02 PM
  • 9
    I really enjoyed reading the tips in this article, but I have to say that I really do try to lose weight during the holidays, and I almost always abstain. I have hypoglycemia and an allergy to fructose, though, so staying away from all sugar is generally my best bet. Unless it's a special family thing, I just don't eat junk food, even on the holidays. - 12/6/2010   3:20:13 PM
    Good stuff! - 12/6/2010   3:17:55 PM
  • 7
    The article says to use olive oil for frying -- don't! Olive oil, especially extra virgin, has a low smoke point and is very easily damaged by heat. The heat from cooking creates free radicals in most oils. Also, depending on the smoke point, high heat used for frying actually hydrogenates the oil right there on your stove, turning what was once a heart-healthy oil into a trans fat! Olive oil is best used cold on salads, or toss vegetables in a splash of olive oil immediately after cooking. For frying, peanut, coconut, and avocado oils are much more suitable. - 12/6/2010   2:39:39 PM
  • 6
    Take Two: The same concept is addressed in the book "French Women Don't Get Fat". Make small dishes, and several of them, since the maximum enjoyment is in those first couple bites. (Highly recommend the book) - 12/6/2010   11:30:20 AM
  • 5
    My best tip for avoiding holiday weight gain is this... all things in moderation. If you'd like to have a cup of egg nog, enjoy a small cup of egg nog with a splash of amaretto. ;) I only have egg nog twice a year. Once at Thanksgiving and once at Christmas. I won't have it again until next year. So, I don't deny myself anything. I'll have a small or moderate portion of whatever I want.

    I don't want to feel like I missed out on something because I was worried that I'd gain weight. - 12/6/2010   10:51:20 AM
  • 4
    Keep track! I'll eat any holiday treat that I want as long as I can fit it within my daily calorie range. I'm okay with eating a lighter meal so I can have a couple cookies for dessert. This may not be the 'healthiest' option, but as long as I'm not doing it everyday I don't mind. - 12/6/2010   10:02:21 AM
  • 3
    thanks for the great tips....we go to friends over the holiday and the sweets are hard to resist... - 12/6/2010   8:55:41 AM
  • 2
    great suggestions/tips! - 12/6/2010   7:06:16 AM
    This artical reinforced some tips I already knew but there were some new ones. I have printed this out and have it on my fidge as a reminder. I am going to get through this holiday season mindful of healthy choices and weight control. - 12/6/2010   6:35:22 AM

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