10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole Christmas dinner, but we have to ask. Just when did holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas morph from messages of love and giving to ones of food and gorging?

Whether it’s one, three or seven pounds, experience says that most of us will gain weight between now and New Year’s Day. So it bears repeating that moderation is the key to enjoying a fun and healthy holiday season.

This year, shake off the ghosts of food-crammed Christmases past! Fill up instead on family and friendship rather than food and feasting. Make a concerted effort to fill your heart with love—not cholesterol—and you’ll start the New Year with a brighter outlook instead of a desperate resolve to shed pounds!

So, in the tradition of giving, I'm offering you a very special gift: the 10 ways to avoid holiday weight gain. It’s one size fits all, so feast your eyes on this easy-to-follow advice before you feast on that second slice of Aunt Edna’s holiday pie.

  1. Keep your eye on the prize…a slimmer you! Mindful snacking is one way to weigh less without stress. Mindless snacking will prevent the weight loss you’re working so hard to accomplish.
  2. Imbibe with caution. Alcohol accomplishes two negatives: extra calories without nutrition, and a relaxing of inhibitions. You need all your willpower to resist the cheese dips and fried snacks, so staying sober is a good strategy. Check out these diet-friendly alcohol choices for more tips.
  3. Don't go wild. Hey, it’s a party! So it is. Enjoy a beer, glass of wine, or even a cocktail (made with club soda or diet soda, of course). Spend the rest of the party walking around with a full glass of club soda with lime. Keeping your hands occupied accomplishes two purposes: first, the hosts will not ask if you need a drink (you have one), and second, it’s harder to eat with one hand wrapped around a glass.
  4. Host your own party. Cocktail parties are so easy to make healthy. Too many hosts toss together a menu of fried foods, fatty cheeses, greasy chips and snacks, and unlimited nuts. There are plenty of great alternatives like grilled chicken and crudités with yogurt dip, baked chips and pretzels. Get more healthy party food ideas.
  5. Stay active. Nothing helps your reach (and maintain) a healthy weight like physical activity. If you’re like most, holidays keep you busier than ever, leaving you with less time for yourself. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, stay fit by walking daily. Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and walk briskly. Repeat just before dinner.
  6. Make the reservations. Social obligations often mean dining out. But if you pick the restaurant, you’re guaranteed to be able to eat healthfully. Choose an establishment that offers a variety of foods so everyone is guaranteed to find something they enjoy. Use these dining out tips to keep it healthy.
  7. Choose to lose. Many people feel that if they don’t partake in the holiday feasting tradition, others will perceive them as rude or ungrateful. Hey, it’s your diet, your way. You have the right to eat what you want, where you want and in the amount you want.
  8. Just say NO…tactfully! You can say to your host, "Oh, I’m sorry. My plan doesn’t include (name the food) but, I surely thank you!" Or, "Oh, thank you so much, I’m sure it’s wonderful! I’m too full right now, but thanks for asking!" Firmly exercise your right of refusal, but be sure to graciously thank your host for offering.
  9. Prepare for a party and take the edge off your appetite. Eat a small, healthy snack before the party. A half-sandwich of turkey in a whole-wheat pita stuffed with sprouts and tomatoes will fuel you nicely. Then, at the party, you can pick and choose wisely without being driven by hunger.
  10. Get support. Sometimes you just need to talk to a friend or buddy, and get some support and motivation to resist the holiday temptations. Post on the message boards, call a friend, or bring along your diet buddy for emotional support!
Here's to a healthy holiday season!
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Member Comments

I include calorie counts of the various treats in my meal plan. It helps. Report
Great tips. Report
Some great ideas. Now all that is left is to follow them. Report
Wishing every happy and healthy holidays! Report
Gosh, this is so hard. I won't overeat, but it will be hard to resist the terrible foods: gluten, sugar and dairy. Report
Great ideas.

You could also pull the host aside ahead of time and ask her to help you say no to the pressures other guests might put on you into eating more than you should. Then the host will be 'in' on your plan and will most likely want to make the food healthier so you can enjoy some as well.
Couldn't hurt! Report
Great tips! Report
I've gotten through the last few Christmases unscathed, I can do it again! Report
Great tips! Report
thanks Report
Great advice and perfect timing! Report
Great article! Report
Great strategies! Report
It's never too late to make a healthy choice. Report
If you're going to a pot luck or appetizer party, bring something you can eat that fits in your plan. Nobody watches what you put on your plate, but it's easier to resist the temptations if you are happy with your own contribution to the party.

You'd be surprised at how many times people have thanked me for bringing the veggie platter, or the fruit salad, instead of the sour cream dip or fried mozzarella sticks. Report

About The Author

John McGran
John McGran
During his 25-year writing and editing career, John has written for several newspapers, magazines and websites.
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