Eat right without missing out on holiday fun


The average American gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 10 ways you can avoid that holiday weight gain and still enjoy the season:

  1. Eat your favorite foods (in moderation). That’s right, go ahead and eat your favorite holiday goodies. A sure-fire way to derail your holiday diet is committing to unrealistic goals—like never eating cookies the Christmas cookies you look forward to all year.  Just don’t go overboard. Stick with one or two cookies instead of three, four or more. Letting yourself enjoy a treat without guilt can actually help you keep up your motivation not to overeat.
  2. Start with the healthy stuff. When you go to a holiday gathering, head for the healthy food first.  If you fill up with the veggie tray and lean chicken skewers—you’ll be less likely to overindulge less healthy fare.
  3. Step away from the buffet. When food is offered buffet-style, put a reasonable amount of food on plate and then move to the other side of the room. If you spend your time socializing right next to the buffet, it’s easy to keep munching mindlessly on all the treats within reach.
  4. Be a picky eater. Skip dishes you don’t love or things you can get year-round. Just because Aunt Jane made her famous fruitcake, doesn’t mean you have to eat it.  And, don’t feel you have to try one of everything on the desert tray. Just pick what really appeals to you and leave it at that.
  5. Wear snug clothes. Loose-fitting clothing makes it easy to indulge and stay comfortable. Instead, wear something that reminds you of the joys of fitting into your holiday attire.
  6. Think before you drink. Beverages add up. Drinking alcohol (or other sugary drinks) can drastically increase your calorie intake. Keep in mind that alcohol contains almost as many calories per gram as fat (and that doesn’t even count the snacks you eat after you’ve had a few cocktails). Water, of course, is always a good choice. Drinking cold water serves as a mild appetite suppressant and—bonus— you burn calories by warming cold water up to body temperature in your digestive system.
  7. Don’t skip meals. Whether you intentionally miss a meal so you can eat later, or just forget to eat during the holiday hustle-and-bustle, skipping a meal leaves you starving and often leads to overeating. Eat regular meals and snacks during the holidays so you never wind up ravenous and overdoing it.
  8. Do your best to limit stress. It’s no secret, the holidays can be stressful and people eat when they’re stressed. This year, at the beginning of the holiday season, make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources. Think about what is most important to you and what you can give up. If you feel less frazzled, you won’t need as much comfort food.
  9. Plan activities other than eating. With so many holiday traditions revolving around eating or food preparation, it can be easy to forget there are other alternatives. Plan games and activities instead of sitting around the dining table for hours, host a caroling party instead of a cookie exchange, volunteer with coworkers instead of the usual potluck—the possibilities are endless.
  10. Don’t forget to exercise. Controlling what you eat only goes so far. Keep up aerobic exercise and strength training during the holiday season. If you don’t have time for your normal workouts, try to incorporate physical activity into your holiday-time events—go ice skating, take your kids sledding, powerwalk around the mall for 30 minutes while looking for gifts, etc.