‘Tis the season for parties and celebrations with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for overeating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up.

apple and walnut

The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few (or all) of these simple tips, you can stay healthy all through the holiday season.

  1. Be realistic. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
  1. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain. A moderate increase in daily exercise can help to offset the extra holiday eating. Try taking a brisk walk once or twice a day – even just 10 or 15 minute can make a difference.
  1. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
  1. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
  1. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, eat slowly, and enjoy.
  1. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and result in overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
  1. If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. It takes around 500 calories per day (about 3,500 calories or so per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
  1. Take the focus off food. Trade off some of your cookie baking time with non-edible projects like making wreaths or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food.
  1. Offer to bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That way you know there will be something there for you to eat and enjoy.
  1. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing your favorite traditional dishes with less fat and sodium will help promote healthy holiday eating.

Lighten up recipes with these simple modifications and cooking tips:


  • Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat and then skim it off the top to reduce fat grams and calories.


  • Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce. Another tip: use whole wheat bread in place of white bread.

Cranberry Fruit Relish

  • Rather than jellied cranberry sauce, make your own with fresh cranberries and other fruits.


  • Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin to decrease the saturated fat and calories.

Green Bean Casserole

  • Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with slivered or sliced almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Mashed Potatoes

  • Use skim or low-fat milk, low sodium broth, fresh minced garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk, butter, and salt.

Quick Holiday Nog

  • Place 4 ripe bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top each with a sprinkle of nutmeg.


  • Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fatty sugary frosting.

Most importantly

  • Enjoy the holidays, plan time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season,



When the holidays are over and it’s time to get back on track, check out this 28-Day Refresh Meal Plan.  Give it a try now (for FREE) so you are ready for the New Year.

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