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November 19, 2018 / Emily Polson

9 Tips To Help You Avoid Holiday Weight Gain


The holidays are a notorious time for weight gain. Whatever routine you had for healthy eating and exercise, it’s out the window once your nights and weekends are filled with family reunions, festive work parties, and holiday shopping. The added stress and fatigue don’t help your motivation either, so it’s easy for the number on the scale to climb steadily upward if you’re not careful. Even if you aren’t gaining, nobody wants to risk hitting the dreaded weight loss plateau. You don’t have to miss out on holiday fun just to maintain your diet, though. Here are some helpful tips for how to avoid holiday weight gain.

1. Bring a Healthy Dish to the Potluck

It’s hard to be in control of your diet when you’re eating potluck-style at a holiday party. Focus on what is in your control: your contribution to the potluck. Bring a dish that fits your goals for healthy eating so that no matter what the other options are, you still have something delicious you can dig into guilt-free.

Here are some healthy holiday dishes that taste great and are guaranteed to wow everyone at the party:

2. Adjust Recipes for Baked Goods

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favorite baking traditions. You can still avoid holiday weight gain by swapping out certain ingredients or using the opportunity to experiment with healthier recipes. To cut back on sugar consumption, try these eight holiday cookie recipes that use alternative sweeteners.

3. Eat Mindfully

When we’re rushing around during the holidays or filling our plates at a family reunion, it’s easy to overeat. You can avoid this tendency by slowing down and being more mindful of the food you’re consuming, says a 2013 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You don’t even have to count calories to avoid holiday weight gain. Just give your stomach and brain time to communicate fullness to one another so you don’t eat more than you need. A good rule of thumb is to wait 20 minutes before deciding if you’re still hungry enough for seconds.

4. Weekday Meal Planning

Between company holiday parties, family get-togethers, and celebrations with friends, we know it can be hard to stick to a diet during the holidays. To help reduce the impact of the weekend splurge, plan your weekdays wisely by tackling meal planning in bulk. Not only will this reduce the daily stress of cooking, a focused weekday plan can help you delay your splurge days until the weekend.

5. Use a Smaller Plate

Another strategy to combat overeating is to use a smaller plate. If you know you can’t help but fill your plate, give yourself less surface area to heap food onto. This also forces you to be pickier when choosing your food, which will in turn lead you to make more mindful choices in what you eat.

6. Be Wary of Leftovers

You can loosen up on your diet for one night if you’re eating mindfully and controlling your portions. But if you’ve got enough leftovers in your fridge to last for a week, you may run into trouble trying to avoid holiday weight gain. If you’re hosting, pick up some holiday-themed tupperware to fill with leftovers and send home with your guests as a parting gift. If you still end up with way too much leftover food, stick it in the freezer rather than the fridge so you’re not tempted to polish it all off right away.

7. Take Your Exercise Routine on the Road

If you travel over the holidays, you likely won’t have access to the same gym, equipment, or exercise classes that you’re used to. If there’s snow or ice where you’re traveling, going for a jog outside might not even be the most feasible backup plan. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on exercise altogether and surrender to holiday weight gain, though. Our guide to making an exercise routine in a hotel room helps you stay fit wherever you go. No space? No problem.

8. Be Active with Friends and Family

Eating together is a given during family gatherings, but why not make exercise part of the fun, too? Going on a walk through the neighborhood or a local park can be a low-intensity, post-meal activity for family members of all ages. See if there are any holiday-themed races in your area, and get a friend or family member to take part with you. Indoors or out, find a way to combine family fun with fitness to help avoid holiday weight gain.

9. Substitute Vegetables in Your Lunch

Have a big evening celebration to attend? Make better choices for your mid-day meal by simply swapping healthy vegetables in place of cheese and meat. According to the CDC, substituting vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions for 2 ounces of cheese and 2 ounces of meat in your sandwich or wrap will fill you up with fewer calories. While it may take willpower to hold the cheese, this small adjustment can play a big role in avoiding holiday weight gain.

The Takeaway

From holiday parties to family vacations, the holidays can be a hard time to stick to routine. But this doesn’t mean your diet has to fall by the wayside! Staying mindful of these simple adjustments can help keep your weight in check and your health goals on track. For an added boost of motivation, look into clean eating meal plans to help keep you from falling into the holiday weight gain trap.

PlateJoy makes meal planning easy by providing custom weekly meal plans that fit your lifestyle and your needs. You can adjust how many meals and servings you need each week, allowing you to stay on track despite those pesky holiday parties and other obligations. Get started with your customized meal plans today.

Emily Polson

Emily is a writer, reader, and traveler from Iowa who has visited twenty-one countries and lived in three. Her first publication was an article in Muse magazine about her summer job as a corn detasseler. She’s a Slytherin, an amateur ukulele player, and a Peter Pan enthusiast. You can follow Emily on Twitter @emilycpolson.

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