By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want to avoid holiday weight gain and extra holiday pounds? Enter these dietitian-approved holiday diet tips, including advice on how to prevent Christmas weight gain.
I know, I know. We just finished up Thanksgiving festivities. And with Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's around the corner, it would be so easy to give yourself a free pass to overindulge from now until next year. But I know you won't.
probably want to avoid holiday weight gain, right? And maybe even lose some weight over the holidays?
If you're wondering how to accomplish these goals, I've got you covered with some really down-to-earth healthy diet tips. I'm sharing some of my fave tips here, and here's one reminder that will go really far, too: Keep the reason for the season top of mind!
And nope, that reason isn't an endless supply of holiday foods like mom's famous pecan pie or Aunt Shelly's irresistible butterscotch cookies. It's enjoying time spent with family and friends, as well as spreading love and holiday cheer. Here's to a happy, healthy, and only moderately indulgent December!
Now, let's talk about preventing holiday weight gain!
Dietitian Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
I look forward to holiday celebrations all year, including the virtual Secret Santa gift exchange party my husband and I are participating in.
What I don’t love is the seemingly constant holiday goodies—I know that even if I choose my foods carefully, I’ll still benefit from thinking extra hard about my food choices and adding extra activity to my day.
So I’ve begun to do just that. And I don't know about you, but my calendar is booked with virtual parties and cookie exchanges, so I've been brainstorming creative ways to fit in my fruits and veggies this month.
In case your December weight-loss goals feel out of reach, I'm sharing some weight-control simple strategies to help you eat well without missing out on any of the fun this season. Deep breaths also help!
Have a Mindful Meal
While it’s tempting to answer e-mails or watch TV while I eat, research shows what may be helpful. Research in Couple & Family Psychology shows that distraction while eating may lead to overconsumption. The good news: In the study, families ate more cookies when eating with a noisy background, versus a quiet one.
Carry Healthy Snacks
I’ve started carrying bananas, apples, and almonds in my purse. They add weight, but they also keep me in check when hunger strikes mid-errand. Fruit and vegetables make great snacks!
Track What You Eat
Even as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I know the struggle of wanting to chow down on one too many baked goods when faced with a holiday dessert buffet. However, taking control of my food choices during winter festivities can help prevent weight gain this season. Together, we can tackle the holidays, possibly even ending up a few pounds lighter!
If you'd love to not gain an ounce over the holidays, read on. Up your accountability game with apps that'll help you stick to your healthy lifestyle goals. See which one I devote screen time to in this BostonGlobe.com article!
Make Excuses to Move
Yesterday, I took two breaks to buy tea and coffee—walking over two miles to and from my far-away shops. You can do the same in an office setting. Visit a coworker instead of e-mailing or use the printer on the other side of the office.
Set an Exercise Goal
“We get bogged down in the idea that exercise must be a 45-minute session at the gym or a 2-hour bike ride outside in order to count, but that's not true," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best.
"Setting a goal for tracking steps at work reinforces the idea that every move you make encourages better health," she says. "Get a baseline reading of how many steps you take daily, then add 100 every day until you get to at least 10,000 steps daily.”
Frequent a Far-Away Bathroom
“My go-to is using a restroom on another floor or the further one from you," says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, co-author of Fertility Foods. Doing this five times plus a day will help you stay more active in the day. It works, too, for those who work from home, trust me.”
Make it a Moving Meeting
“I'm a big fan of standing up and stretching at my desk often," says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The Telomere Diet and Cookbook. "I take calls standing with a headset; I also do walking meetings with my team.”
Do Food Swaps
When it comes to weight loss, I'm also a fan of little changes like swapping out higher-calorie seasonings for lower-cal ones like everything bagel spice mix. Having company over this holiday season? Consider these healthy entertaining recipes.
Have a Party Snacking Strategy
“When eating at parties, don't go hungry," says Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RDN, owner of Supermarket Nutrition. "Drink water and load up on fruits and veggies. Pick one or two foods to indulge in.” Also use smaller plates for portion control–and choose lean proteins like chicken breast and salmon for holiday meals.
Use This Dessert Trick
Ever think you'd hear the words "cake" and "healthy" in the same sentence? In my article for FoodNetwork.com, I'm sharing a very little-known food science trick that could save you calories on baked goods this holiday season.
Need more ideas to up your holiday weight-loss challenge? With colder weather already here and holiday parties around the corner, losing weight doesn’t exactly seem simple. Nutritionist tips to the rescue! Don’t miss this advice from my colleagues and I in this MyFitnessPal.com article.
This blog post was updated in December 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
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I'd love to hear from you! What are best tips for not gaining weight during the holidays and this time of year? How do you keep extra calories under control? What else would you add to this list of holiday weight-loss tips?
- Couple & Family Psychology
- Apps to Help You Stave Off Holiday Weight Gain,
- Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best
- Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, co-author of Fertility Foods
- Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The Telomere Diet and Cookbook
- Betsy Ramirez, MEd, RDN, owner of Supermarket Nutrition
- This One Trick Could Make Your Dessert Healthier,
- 3 Tips to Combat Winter Weight Gain,
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