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Expert Tips For Avoiding Weight Gain During The Holidays

Updated on November 1, 2015
It's not impossible to avoid weight gain during the holidays.
It's not impossible to avoid weight gain during the holidays. | Source

Food is a big part of many holiday traditions. But that can be a problem for those that are trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Did you know that people often gain about 1 pound during the holidays? This average is even higher for people that are already fighting their weight.

So what can you do about it? Avoid parties? Indulge on the raw vegetables and skip the cookies? Hide until the new year?

There are ways to help combat holiday weight gain and still enjoy the holidays.

In this article I've combined tips from multiple researchers and experts. Here are some REAL ways to fight holiday weight gain successfully.


Yes , it seems so simple. We all know that one way to help combat weight is to get regular exercise. But it truly becomes a bit trickier during the holiday season.

It's colder outside so you may not feel like going out for a walk or a jog. Relatives are coming in and it's hard to leave them an go to the gym.

There are so many reasons that our regular exercise routines may be disrupted.

But making time to exercise will not only benefit your weight, it will benefit your stress level as well.

And if your relatives are in town, ask them to come with you. Studies have shown that having an exercise buddy inspires us to exercise more frequently and to keep up our exercise routines. The reason? We have someone else helping to hold us accountable.

A Workout Specifically Designed for Combating Holiday Pounds

Eat A Little Healthier During The Week

Another idea to help control holiday weight gain is to eat even a little healthier during the week to help compensate for the extra calories you may consume at your weekend, holiday party.

Opt for the salad instead of the burger during lunch. Drink water instead of soda. Cutting calories during your work week doesn't mean you can go overboard at a party, but it does allow you to indulge a little in that brownie or glass of wine without worrying too much about your waist line.

What Temptation is Hard To Resist At A Holiday Party?

What food or beverage do you find yourself wanting to indulge in?

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Go For The Protein

But when you are eating healthier, also remember that you don't want to starve yourself. Pick foods that will help you to fill fuller, longer. Proteins are one way to do that.

According to Jaclyn London, GH Nutrition Director, we should "FILL UP ON PROTEIN. Have a protein-rich snack before going out — it keeps you feeling full longer than carbs, and arriving satisfied helps you make smarter decisions."

London suggests some yogurt or a few slices of cheese with some fruit. Even a lean chicken breast or a serving of beans may help you to feel more satisfied and inspire you to fix yourself a smaller plate of holiday food.

Fill up on protein before you head to the party. Beans are a cheap, healthy and easy way to do this.
Fill up on protein before you head to the party. Beans are a cheap, healthy and easy way to do this. | Source

Find Support

In the same spirit as an exercise buddy is finding support for your healthy lifestyle among family, friends and even co-workers.

One workplace opted to do this through a web-based program that helped their employees focus on their weight goals and on staying healthy during the holidays.

"Participants completed a self-reported baseline questionnaire assessing body composition and physical activity. The program promoted nutrition education, physical activity, and stress management through weekly motivational emails and a series of optional wellness workshops. At the end of the program, participants completed a self-reported evaluation assessing body composition, physical activity, and program satisfaction" (Hallisey et. al., 2015)

This program was very successful and participants lost about 3 pounds---much better than the usual one pound or more weight gain during the holidays.

Buddy Power

Do you exercise with a buddy?

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Don't Beat Yourself Up

If you do go to that party and eat too much or have too many glasses of sugary or alcoholic beverages, don't despair and think that it's over. Try to compensate for the extra calories by eating better for the next few days.

After all, the holidays are a time to enjoy ourselves and one evening of indulgence doesn't wreck you or your diet forever.

Eating healthy is a long term goal as is weight loss. Small blips in the road to a healthier you can either lead to abandoning the effort or just be seen as a little indulgence.

Keep a positive outlook on yourself and your body and enjoy the holidays.

Other Great Tips For Cutting Calories

Sources (Read More From the Experts!)

  • Brown, L. (2000). Weight matters. 'Tis the (overeating) season: follow these tips to ensure a guilt-free holiday. Better Nutrition, 62(12), 26-28 2p.
  • Hallissey, N., Sandone, M., & Lokshin, E. (2015). Tuesday, October 6: Maintain Don’t Gain: An 8-Week Web-Based Program for Employees to Maintain Their Weight during the Holidays. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 115(Supplement), A99. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.364
  • KORN, M. (2014). 19 WAYS TO CELEBRATE (without gaining weight!). Good Housekeeping, 258(12), 91-94.
  • Stevenson, J. L., Krishnan, S., Stoner, M. A., Goktas, Z., & Cooper, J. A. (2013). Effects of exercise during the holiday season on changes in body weight, body composition and blood pressure. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 67(9), 944. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.98


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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Exercise? What's that? Exercise is one thing I haven't mastered. Prior to hitting my 50's, my lifestyle kept me fit. I danced every chance I got and that seemed to do it for me. I was never overweight. (The vibrations of a Harley as I sat on the back seat was akin to one of those vibration belt machines they had years ago - but much more enjoyable! :-))

      My problem at holiday eating time isn't the sweets, it's the gravies and casseroles. But that isn't limited to holidays. Frankly, I'd love to see holiday dinner take the way of shellfish as the main course. I'd much rather feast on a plate of crabs, clams, and oysters than meat any day!