5 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

By Marcie Vaske, MS, LN
December 11, 2018

christmascookies.jpgAs soon as the holiday tunes start playing, the traditions come flooding back. While nostalgic, for many people those holiday traditions equal food. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without their favorite cookie, piece of pie, or homemade dinner roll. However, these holiday food splurges can turn into a slippery slope that results in weeks of poor food choices. Then the aches and pains return…the low moods return… and the clothes become too tight and too uncomfortable to wear. 

Let’s stop that yearly cycle, right now. Think of it as your holiday self-care. These five tips are aimed to keep you feeling great throughout these merry and bright (and busy) days and starting the New Year on the right foot. 

Bring a Delicious and Healthy Option

Nell, who lost 90 pounds with the help of Nutritional Weight & Wellness, says that before a holiday gathering she thinks to herself, “What if I just chose my starchy carb? What if I roasted some sweet potatoes and passed on the mashed potatoes? What if I didn't sample stuffing? What if I started with an appetizer of deviled eggs instead of bread and spinach dip?” Which she does, and you can too. Here’s a list of healthy holiday recipes that you can make, or volunteer to bring, to your holiday gatherings. 

pumpkincheesecake.jpgWhen it comes to dessert, Nell made our Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars which helped her avoid the five different types of pie being served. “They were delicious, and they helped me participate. And I kind of evaluated, “Did I feel deprived? Did I feel left out in any way? No!”  

Pick Your Three

When it comes to any meal or snack, be it a holiday or a regular weekday, we always encourage our clients to include three things on their plate – an animal protein, healthy fat and carb. Keep these three in mind when you’re at the holiday buffet. For instance, if ham is the main entrée, you’re set for protein! Then your carb can be the sweet potatoes you brought and a sampling from the veggie platter. A healthy fat could be olives and plenty of butter. You’ll feel satisfied after the meal, not stuffed to the brim. Also, this trifecta helps balance your blood sugar which helps keep cravings at bay. Something that comes in handy if your family also serves five+ dessert options  brings us back to our first tip; do what Nell did and bring your own healthy option.  

Don’t Skip Meals

When you skip meals your blood sugar goes on a roller coaster ride which leaves you much more likely to experience cravings, stress, hunger, stress, fatigue – and did we mention stress? Who needs more of that around the hectic holidays? Low blood sugar can actually lead to weight gain because during low blood sugar times, our adrenal glands overproduce cortisol, a fat-making hormone.

Recipie-Egg Bake-Thumb.jpgIt’s no surprise that breakfast is the most often skipped meal. But you know what happens when you skip breakfast? Later in the day you’re unable to avoid the bagels and donuts once you get to work, or the appetizer table when you get to the party. Avoid that with any of these delicious breakfast options, any of our fast smoothie options or the egg bake and sheet pan frittata which are great for a crowd.

Prioritize Sleep

According to the book Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker, a lack of sleep slows your metabolism and causes your body to lose muscle mass rather than fat. It can also leave you with a weak immune system, an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression. Make yourself a priority this season and get to bed early! We shared our favorite steps for getting more sleep (bedtime snack is our #1 tip!) here. Read on, and sweet dreams. 

Get Support

Come the New Year, we all know that gym memberships and resolutions abound. While this is wonderful, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, so hiring a personal trainer or meeting your friend at the gym is only part of the picture when looking at weight loss. Don’t be afraid to get support with your eating as well. There is so much conflicting information on weight loss, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Let us help you cut through the clutter with an option that’s right for you:

Here are some more resources to make the holidays your healthiest yet, Eat This, Not That This Holiday Season and What’s in That Holiday Cookie? A Nutritionist Breaks It Down.

About the author

Marcie truly understands the healing power of nutrition having once suffered from anorexia, obsessive-compulsive exercising and anxiety, all of which led to chronic and complex digestive issues for her. She credits good nutrition in playing a critical role in her recovery from anorexia, diminishing anxiety, and helping to heal her digestive tract. She joined Nutritional Weight & Wellness in 2011, completed her M.S. in clinical nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and is a licensed nutritionist through the Minnesota Board of Dietetics and Nutrition.

View all posts by Marcie Vaske, MS, LN

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