15 Tips to Prevent Weight Gain During the Holidays

Christian Coulson
Updated: June 14, 2020
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One beautiful morning you wake up, step on the scale, and feel proud of yourself.

“I’ve kept my weight pretty steady this year,” you say to yourself filled with joy.

As you walk to the kitchen, you stop to look at the calendar hanging on the wall.

While looking at the calendar, you start getting excited and happy but also stressed, anxious, and worried.

“It’s the holiday season!” You shout, “It’s the holiday season…” You say again in a softer voice.

Thinking about all the baked goods co-workers will bring to the office, the parties, and drinks; you start to worry about all the weight you’re going to gain.

Don’t panic! I’ll show you 15 tips to prevent weight gain during the holidays.

1. Eat less the week prior to the holiday

Eating fewer calories the days leading to the holiday will help you keep your weekly calorie count low.

For example, if you eat 1,500 cals per day, that’d be 10,500 (1,500 x 7) cals per week.

Therefore, you could cut calories down to 1300/day, which would be 7,800 by day 6 (1,300 x 6).

This will leave you with 2,200 cals (10,500 – 7,800) you can eat during the holiday (day 7).

If you’re not counting calories, you could eat half of your normal dinner, lunch, or breakfast or limit your snacks during the week.

Why can you do this?

Because your body is always burning calories, it doesn’t stop at midnight and restart in the morning.

This is what some people call “carb cycling,” “calorie cycling,” and “alternate-day fasting.”

2. Limit taste-testing

Image of a woman taste-testing food.

Obviously, you don’t want to bring a weird tasting dish to the party, however, small bites can quickly add up in calories.

Do your best to keep taste-testing at a minimum, a tiny bite is typically enough to see where the dish stands.

Another tip is to make sure you’re not hungry while cooking. Rookie mistake!

3. Bring a healthy dish

Holiday dishes are typically high in carbs and fats, therefore, a good way to keep your calories low is to bring a healthy dish to share.

While you can’t control what others will bring, at least you’ll have one healthy dish you can eat from.

If you don’t know what to cook, you can explore these 10 low-calorie holiday recipes.

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4. Eat your vegetables first

Eating your vegetables first will get you full with fewer calories so you don’t overeat on processed and sugary foods.

This is due to their high fiber content, which can help you reduce calorie intake and prevent weight gain during the holidays. (1, 2)

5. Don’t wait until the new year to start exercising

Overweight beginner exercising to lose weight.

Don’t wait until January 1st to think about how you’re going to lose weight. This can make you feel behind and add unnecessary pressure.

Get a head start to the year and begin exercising now, this will help you be more confident and build momentum into the new year.

Not only will it help you better adhere to next year’s weight loss goals, but also keep your calories low this holiday season.

Here are 7 small habits that can help you lose weight!

6. Eat more protein

Protein is also digested slowly and is considered the most satiating nutrient.

Eating at least 25 g of protein at each meal will help you keep calories low by reducing hunger and appetite. (3)

Protein also gives a temporary boost to your metabolism.

Some high-protein foods include fish, poultry, beans, legumes, greek yogurt, eggs, and meat.

7. Eat fibrous foods before leaving the house

They’ll keep you full so you don’t get to the party and devour everything.

Some foods high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and oats.

8. Pay attention to your food

While the holidays are all about friends and family, don’t let this get you so distracted that you snack mindlessly.

You can definitely enjoy time with your family without constant snacking.

Pay attention to what you’re getting on your plate.

Eating while distracted is a common rookie mistake and one of the horrible habits often preventing you from losing weight.

9. Don’t stress too much

There’s a lot of running around during the holidays which can lead to stress and emotional eating.

Stress can increase cravings for fast food and lead to weight gain. (4)

A good way to keep stress low is to plan ahead, get organized, buy everything on time, and plan for the unexpected.

Exercise is also helpful to reduce stress, another reason why you shouldn’t wait until the new year to start doing it.

10. Limit liquid calories

Alcohol, fruit juices, and sodas are very common during the holidays. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to consume extra calories and not fill full.

In fact, alcohol has been shown to increase appetite and lead to weight gain.

Focus on drinking water, ginger tea, coffee, or other low-calorie drinks like carbonated water and diet sodas.

11. Limit dessert

Eating too much sugar is one of the reasons people tend to gain weight during the holidays. 

Though it might be tempting to try all the desserts, try to focus only on your favorite.

Another great tip is to eat it slowly and enjoy it.

12. Use a smaller plate

Being distracted talking to family and friends, it’s easy to get carried away and fill our plates to the brim.

A good way to prevent weight gain during the holidays is to use smaller plates or watch your portion sizes.

Using smaller plates will trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating a lot of food.

In fact, this study (5) showed that reducing the plate size from the standard 12” to 10” results in 22% fewer calories being served.

Here are some other wonky weight loss tricks that actually work.

13. Transform your recipes

Holiday recipes tend to use lots of butter, sugar, and oils.

A few ways to make your recipes a little less calorie-dense is to use ingredients like Stevia and whey protein.

You could also replace low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream, cream cheese for Greek yogurt.

Lastly, focus on baking, grilling, or roasting instead of deep-frying.

14. Pair up with someone

Don’t underestimate the power of support.

Find someone who has the same weight loss goals as you and keep each other accountable during the holidays.

15. It’s okay to say no

Woman saying no with her hand in front of her face image.

You’ll get asked to taste different foods or to eat more. People will try to make you feel guilty by saying things like:

  • Calories don’t count on the holidays
  • Don’t be a party pooper
  • One more slice of cake ain’t gonna hurt
  • Live a little

However, you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to, just be polite when saying no.

You could say things like:

  • No, thank you, I’ve already had enough. But it looks delicious!
  • I would love to, but I’m already full.
  • I’ll try it next time!

While holidays are often a season of joy, they can surely affect your weight loss efforts if not controlled, the key is to find a balance between enjoyment and nutrition.

That’s why I recommend people to adopt the 80/20 rule for weight loss.

Use these 15 tips to help you enjoy a great time with family and friends, but also keep you on track with your weight loss goals.

Happy Holidays!

Do you have any other tips on how to prevent weight gain during the holidays? If you do, share them in the comments section below!

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