Simple Strategy to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

We’ve all heard the stats over how much weight can pile on between Thanksgiving supper and New Year’s Day brunch. On the one hand, cooking magazines tantalize us with drool-worthy photos of holiday eats, while women’s glossies warn us not to over-indulge. Indeed, the gauntlet of food- and drink-centric festivities is in full swing, which means I’ve got my waistline on the brain and how I plan to maintain it into next year.

I could go to extremes, relying on the strategy espoused by Emily Blunt’s character in The Devil Wear’s Prada,

“See, I’m on this new diet. Well, I don’t eat anything and right before I feel I’m going to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight.”

Certainly not my style, hardly healthy, and terribly unfun.

My approach is just as simple but allows room to have your holiday fruitcake and eat it too. I’ve distilled it down to two words to prevent holiday weight gain:


That’s it.

Golden Parmesan Potato Bites

Now, here’s what I mean:

Pay attention to what truly appeals to you at seasonal parties and events. Enjoy just those foods and skip the rest of it. Be choosy and go for what you like. If cheese is your thing, find the best of the bunch and relish every bite. If you are a dessert gal, don’t deny yourself.

Pay attention to when you’re really hungry and when you’ve had enough, and honor that. Part of giving yourself permission to indulge is knowing when to call it quits.

Pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth. Really taste your food and savor your wine instead of mindlessly popping every passing appetizer or chugging your cocktail while ordering a second.

Pay attention to how it feels when you do overindulge. Waking up with a hangover, whether it’s on spirits or sugar or both, feels pretty crummy. Then, recommit to moderation.

Pay attention to how exercising over the holidays helps manage the stress and how good it feels to keep it up. Taking the time to bust a move, even if it’s for a 15 minute walk, pays off in controlling the chaos and the calories.

Pay attention to the stories you sometimes tell yourself…and rewrite them. “But it’s the holidays. I never eat fondue/chocolate truffles/cheesecake, I have to go for seconds.” Remind yourself that it’s not the last time you will ever have these foods. Plus, overeating doesn’t usually add up to enjoyment anyway.

Pay attention to opportunities for celebrating the season being active with your family and friends: an evening walk with your hubby to see the neighborhood lights, ice skating with the kids, building a snowman together, a group hike with visiting friends.

Pay attention to the fact that you are your kids’ role model. Let them see how you use moderation to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it. You can bake those Christmas cookies, and savor them, without taking down the whole dozen.

What are your tips and ideas?


12.01.2011 at11:24 AM #

Pam Hochman

I totally agree. One thing that I’ve found during entire winter is that I’m inside more, closer to the temptation of the kitchen. I’ve rediscovered, and my daughters have taken up knitting, and I find keeping our fingers busy while around the house is a great way to avoid just swinging by the kitchen for a little nibble.

12.01.2011 at11:24 AM #

Katie Morford

That sounds like a very wholesome approach to avoiding mindless noshing.

12.02.2011 at6:55 AM #


I love that Devil Wears Prada line! I find as I get older I’ve tended to go off the rails less during the holidays because it’s so hard to lose the weight as you get older. That said, I’ve figured out a few things that work for me. First, eat breakfast. I don’t believe in “saving up” my appetite for the big holiday dinners or parties like I used to. I have found that a good breafast (my new favorite is your quinoa porridge or another multi-grain porridge that I make in my crockpot) that’s a hot cereal and either turkey or veggie sausauge. That seems to set the stage for my not going on a bender later in the day.

Second, I double down on workouts. As a family we (husband and 2-year old toddler) are pretty active. I also on my own work out with a trainer once a week and do cardio on my own three to five days a week. I know not everyone can (or wants) to do this kind of workout regime but the point is to get up and move at least a few times a week. Even the Wii has the really fun Dance Series that’s great for getting the whole family moving.

Lastly, I really try to limit (or at least monitor) how much alcohol I drink. I love wine and cocktails but I find that alcohol really lessons my resolve to eat healthily and increases my appetite. We are big fans of sparkling water in my home and we drink lots of it with different fruit garnishes. I try drink lots and lots of water which I have found tremendously helpful in keeping me feeling hydrated.

12.02.2011 at6:55 AM #

Katie Morford

Good insights and good tips Portia, I agree, the alcohol is a double whammy….added calories plus lost resolve on moderation.

12.11.2011 at4:41 PM #

Dawn C

I just run more on the treadmill or pop in a second Jillian Michaels video.

12.12.2011 at7:12 PM #

Amy Andrews

Well said! Conscious eating – a life changer for many people. Let’s joyfully spread the word!

11.19.2018 at4:43 AM #

Kit B

Excellent post! Simple but powerful and purposeful suggestions.

11.25.2018 at12:26 PM #

Catherine Brown

This is prfect! Just PAY ATTENTION. The end. 🙂

11.26.2018 at9:19 AM #

Stacey Mattinson

Being AWARE is such a powerful tool for healthy habit building!

11.26.2018 at9:19 AM #

Katie Morford

Agreed. Not always easy to do!

11.26.2018 at9:33 AM #

Lindsey Pine

Great tips! So important to keep the exercise going during the holidays!

11.26.2018 at11:12 PM #

Brittany Poulson

I love all of these tips! So many ways to enjoy the holidays without overindulging!

11.26.2018 at11:12 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Brittany. Glad they were helpful.

11.29.2018 at12:49 PM #

Sarah Remmer

Awesome tips, totally agree…Mindless eating is so tough during the winter months!

11.30.2018 at9:15 AM #

Whitney E. RD

Great tips! It’s so easy to eat mindlessly, especially during this social season!

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