Nutrition-wise blog

Tips for preventing holiday weight gain

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. December 18, 2009

It's commonly thought that the typical holiday weight gain is around 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms). In reality, it's probably less. The catch, though, is that even a small holiday weight gain is seldom lost — adding to the cumulative weight gain that happens over time for most adults. In past blogs we've talked about being mindful about holiday eating. Continuing in that spirit, I offer a few additional tips to help you enjoy the season and avoid holiday weight gain:

  • Take it a day at a time. Strive to balance out your calories over the day or at least over a couple of days. If you'll be consuming extra calories at a social event in the evening, make adjustments earlier in the day. Focus on fruits and veggies, and add some lean protein and high-fiber grains to keep your appetite in check.
  • Spurn the party snacks. Don't waste your calories mindlessly munching salty or sugary snack foods. Save them for the big event — dinner and dessert.
  • Be selective. Buffets don't have to be all you can eat. Survey the offerings. What looks too good to pass up? What can you live without? Focus on what you'll enjoy, not how much you can squeeze on your plate.
  • Decorate your plate. Fill half to three-quarters of your plate with colorful raw veggies, fruits or items that have these as their main ingredient. You know creamy sauces and cheesy toppings are going to add calories, so take smaller portions. Fill the rest of your plate with lean meat, shrimp or other seafood choices.
  • Mind your manners and your portions. At sit-down affairs, graciously sample all foods — for your own experience and to please your host. However, you don't have to clean your plate to demonstrate your appreciation.
  • Practice discretion. Identify the added calorie culprits, such as cheese or cream sauces and fillings, and discretely move some or all to the side of your plate. You'll still get the flavor just not all the unnecessary calories and fat.
  • Plan for indulgence. If you want to indulge in a homemade holiday treat or luscious dessert, ask yourself what you're willing to give up in exchange — something at lunch or dinner, or your afternoon snack? Or are willing to put in the extra time at the gym?

How are you balancing your holiday food fun? Are you successfully navigating the season and avoiding the dreaded holiday weight gain? Share your tips.

Happy Holidays,
Katherine

Dec. 18, 2009