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With all of the sweet, treats, and temptations of Thanksgiving and Christmas, here are 25 tips to avoid holiday weight gain.
25 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1. Don’t Skip Meals
It should make sense to skip breakfast and lunch if you know you’re going to have a huge dinner later, but don’t do it! Starving yourself will drive you to eat even more and make unhealthy choices.
It’s so much better to start your day with a healthy breakfast (these Spinach Scrambled Eggs are one of my favorites for a fast, healthy breakfast!).
2. Bring A Healthy Dish
Chances are, you’ll be heading to Christmas parties, potlucks, cookie exchanges, and more.
You can’t control what everybody else brings, but you can make sure your contribution is healthy!
A fruit or veggie tray is always a great choice, but I really enjoy bringing this Healthier Jalapeno Popper Dip with baby carrots and whole wheat crackers to gatherings.
3. Healthify Some Recipes
When it’s cold outside, it’s tempting to go straight for the comfort foods – casseroles, creamy soups, mac & cheese, and other heavy choices.
Definitely, enjoy some of those foods, but try to come up with ways to make them just a little bit healthier!
This Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese is creamy and comforting with the added nutrients of butternut squash!
Check out these 5 ways to healthify your meals to figure out how to make your family favorites just a little bit healthier.
4. Fill Up On Veggies First
Vegetables tend to be an afterthought in meals, which really is a shame!
They are nutrient powerhouses that will keep you healthier doing cold season, help you lose weight, and give you more energy to keep up with the holiday busyness.
Eat them first to fill up on the nutritious stuff before diving into the rest of your meal. It keeps you from overeating other foods and they don’t have to be boring!
Check out these 10 ways to eat more vegetables. My favorite way to eat them is roasted!
5. Use Healthy Swaps In Your Holiday Baking
There are definitely some treats that shouldn’t be tampered with (I happen to love these Chewy Molasses Cookies), but there are so many little tweaks you can make to some of your baked goods.
- unsweetened applesauce for some of the oil in your sweet breads
- white whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour
- honey or maple syrup for some of the sugar
6. Be Generous With Your Treats
I LOVE Christmas baking and I like to have a variety of treats during the season. It would be easy to keep them all for myself because they are so tasty, but I sure don’t need it all!
Mix generosity with weight loss and, after saving some for yourself, give the rest of the batch away to friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, or church workers.
It’s a great way to keep your weight in check and bless someone else!
7. Plan In Fun Exercise With Others
Exercise doesn’t have to look like a 1-hour gym session.
Start a new tradition this year! Have a family football game, go on a group walk, play tag with the little ones in your life.
Instead of having a coffee date with a friend, meet at a park and go for a walk.
Make exercise fun and connect with others while you move!
8. Prioritize & Eat What You Love
I’ve lost 100 pounds, but I don’t believe in forbidden foods. I LOVE food and treats are no exception.
But I don’t waste calories on mediocre food just because it’s there anymore.
Think about the parties you’ve been to where you’ve eaten chips or snack mix just because it was in front of you.
Think of the overbaked cookies or dry baked goods that you’ve eaten and wished you could take the calories back.
You know the things you look forward to most, so keep those things special. Look forward to them and savor them, but don’t eat junk food just because it’s there.
9. Don’t Drink Your Calories
With eggnog, punch, hot chocolate, apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, and wine aplenty, be careful that you aren’t drinking all of your calories for the day.
10. Don’t Stuff Yourself
I know how delicious holiday food is and how easy it is to overeat it!
Often, it’s served in massive quantities in a buffet line so that even when it looks like you’re just taking a little taste, it’s really a heaping portion.
Don’t mindlessly eat your way through plate after plate so you are left feeling uncomfortable afterward.
Eat until you’re full and then stop.
11. Say No To Guilt
If you do overeat or overindulge in Christmas cookies, the most common response is to beat yourself up.
I get it. You meant well and you messed up (again).
But beating yourself up about it won’t help you get back on track. In fact, it tends to drive you back to overeating yet again!
So, pay attention. Notice when you overindulge. Then focus your energy on getting back on track.
12. Go To Bed At A Reasonable Hour
With so many holiday events (plays, concerts, parties, special events) going on, it’s hard to stay on your routine.
If nothing else, try to stick to your normal bedtime as often as you can.
You’re going to need to stay well-rested to keep up with your busy schedule AND not getting enough sleep drives you to overeat junk food.
Also, this alarm clock is great for the winter months when it’s still dark in the morning. It gradually wakes you up with light like a sunrise!
13. Plan Ahead
Browse Pinterest for healthy dinner recipes. Make a meal plan.
Have a freezer cooking session so you don’t have to think about planning dinner for the month!
Plan walks, runs, and exercise sessions. Lay your workout clothes out the night before.
The more you plan ahead, the less you have to think as you go!
14. Keep Fruit & Veggies Stocked
Don’t let all of the eggnog and Christmas cookies take over your fridge.
Make sure you keep easy-to-grab fruits and vegetables stocked in your fridge. Frozen vegetables are a staple of mine too since they are such an easy last-minute option to make a meal more healthy!
15. Have Healthy Snack Options
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a real thing. If your counters are full of sweets and treats, that’s what you’re going to be reaching for to snack on.
Have healthy snack options around.
- hard boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt
- energy bites
- protein bars (these are my favorites, but watch the sugar on protein bars, in general!)
Looking for some healthy stocking stuffer snacks? Check out this post for some ideas!
16. Eat Your Meals Slowly
This is the perfect time of year to sit, talk, and enjoy peoples’ company during dinner.
Throw on some Christmas music in the background, light some candles and make it an experience.
Put your fork down between bites, ask a lot of questions, and enjoy listening to the answers.
It helps you enjoy your food more and eat less to feel satisfied!
17. Use A Smaller Plate For Reasonable Portion Sizes
Use a lunch plate at dinner time.
The same amount of food on both plates looks much different and when the portions appear larger on the lunch-sized plate, we don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.
18. Be Intentional With Your Eating
I mentioned this earlier, but don’t just eat food because it’s there.
When you go to a restaurant that serves chips or rolls, take a reasonable portion, put it on your plate, and then don’t reach for more.
At a party, scope out all of the food options first, decide what you want to eat most, and focus on those things, not filling up on all of the stuff you don’t really care about.
19. Make Time To Manage Your Stress
The holidays can be really stressful.
Whether it’s an overly busy schedule or family tension or drama, make the time to do something to manage your stress.
- take a walk
- draw yourself a bubble bath
- make a playlist of your favorite Christmas songs
20. Make Sure You’re Eating Protein
There are so many delicious foods out there that are heavy on the carbs and light on the protein, which means they don’t keep you full (things like pancakes, donuts, cereal, bread, etc).
Make sure you’re getting enough protein in (especially at breakfast and with your snacks) so that you don’t find yourself reaching for treats when you start feeling hungry again.
21. Track Your Tastes
When you are cooking and baking all of the delicious foods, it’s easy to rack up a day’s worth of calories just by taking little tastes along the way.
Tastes aren’t forbidden, but they do count!
A great way to just be aware of how much you’re tasting is just by tracking it. Maybe you’re using My Fitness Pal or maybe you want to do something super simple like keeping a post-it note on the fridge and drawing a tally for each taste.
Just tracking it will probably make you eat less!
22. Get Your Friends Involved
As you’re working on being healthy this holiday season, get your friends involved!
Instead of a cookie exchange party, have a meal prep party so you all walk away with healthy dinners for your families.
Call them for walks or learn to make a new healthy dish together.
Get them excited about having a healthy holiday themselves!
23. Get Outside
Baby, it’s cold outside. I know!
But getting outside is still so good for you, both physically and mentally!
Layer up with as many layers as you need and get out there.
I’m a huge wimp when it comes to the cold (even when I’m inside!), but I still run outside even when it’s 10 degrees out.
You can check out these other tips for exercising in the winter.
24. Give Experience Gifts
Instead of just giving your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and parents material things for gifts, come up with fun experiences you can gifts instead.
- Buy tickets to go to the zoo with them
- Give them a coupon for housecleaning (with you doing the cleaning!)
- Find a fun local tour to go on
- Plan a special picnic hike or nature walk
It’s a great way to make staying active more fun and get in some more quality time!
25. Maintain, Don’t Gain
Because December is the month full of treats and parties, it’s not the ideal month for weight loss.
Set reasonable goals for yourself. Maybe that means you are just avoiding the holiday weight gain.
Maybe your focus will be to just maintain the weight you are now.
Healthy Holiday Recipes
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