Simple Ways to Ward off Holiday Weight Gain

Tis the season to indulge! However, just because there are cookies begging to be eaten and five course dinner invitations every night of the week doesn’t mean you need to throw your healthy habits completely out the chimney.

Instead, try on the following 10 simple ways to ward off holiday weight gain—while still enjoying the occasional holiday splurge…

Choose Your Treats Discerningly

Make a silent deal with yourself not to squander precious calories on Christmas dishes, snacks, and treats that you don’t honestly salivate over. For instance, I love shortbread cookies, so instead of wasting my calories on truffles and spinach dip at my office holiday potluck, I enjoy a few pieces of shortbread and consider my holiday hankering satisfied for a few days.

Cut the Holiday Stress

There’s a good reason why stress and weight gain go hand in hand—because when we feel stressed out or unsafe…we eat to soothe our mental state. So instead of distressing with your favorite bag or carton of comfort food in front of the television, work out holiday stress by going for a brisk walk while listening to some music.

Don’t Let Temptation Rule You

The holidays are filled with temptations—from those sugar cookies in your fridge to those candy canes on your Christmas tree. Stop temptation in its tracks by freezing your cookies right after baking or hiding candy bowls when you don’t have guests over.

Appease Your Senses in Other Ways

The holidays are more about taste alone! If you take care to decorate your home, you can appease your inner holiday spirit visually and via your olfactory perceptions with pine boughs, cranberry scented candles, and twinkle lights instead of eating your way to feel merry.

Make Holiday Recipes Healthy

Just because you’re making mashed potatoes and stuffing doesn’t mean you need to use two whole sticks of butter! Instead, you can use healthier alternatives in traditional holiday recipes such as chicken soup stock in potatoes, apple butter and cinnamon in your baking, and ginger to roast that turkey.

Stock Up On Healthy Foods

The holiday season will be rife with sugar-filled, fatty indulgences everywhere you turn. However, you can give yourself a break from family dinners and social events at home by stocking your fridge and pantry with fresh fruits, veggies, low fat dairy options, whole grains, and lean protein. So even if you have three parties in one week, you can eat healthy on the evenings when you’re home.

Cook Balanced Meals

Another trick to keeping that waistline trim during the holidays is to keep your household shopping limited to the basic food groups—fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, and whole grains. This way you’ll prepare healthy, balanced meals at home.

Sweat Off Those Christmas Calories

When you’re away from the kitchen and social events, choose to get some exercise to ward off holiday weight gain by going for a walk, a winter run, or even taking the whole family on a fun outdoor activity like tobogganing, skiing, or ice skating.

Never Go To a Party Ravenous

Don’t wear your stretchy dress or pants and go to a holiday party hungry! Hunger will only lead to mindless binging. Instead, on the day of a party make sure to eat a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner –this way, once you’re at the party, you’ll choose healthy snack options and circulate the snack table less often.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

We have a lot to get done during the holidays, but missing out on much needed zzzzzz’s can lead to sleep deprivation and weight gain when appetite-stimulating hormones, like ghrelin, kick into motion.


Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.