Ahhhh, the holidays. Time for friends, family, and fun. Gifts and gathering. Trinkets and togetherness. Presents and… pounds?
With the excitement, travel plans and stress of the holiday season frequently comes weight gain. But that doesn’t have to happen to you.
Check out our list of 22 tips to avoid weight gain during the holidays.*This post contains affiliate links
22 Ways To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
1- Bring or prepare healthier dishes
If the party’s at your crib, cool! You already have full control over what goes on the menu, and it’s easy to lighten the caloric load some. It gets tricky if you’re a guest at multiple parties, however.
To ensure that there will at least be something at the party that suits your waistline, why not bring it yourself? The host will appreciate the effort, and you’ll have a guilt-free go-to for yourself. Score!
2- Be active with family and friends
The best way to be active and stay in the holiday spirit is to select group activities that get everybody moving together.
Ice skating, hiking, skiing, snowball fights (depending on where you live), walking amusement parks or even strolling neighborhoods where there are Christmas decorations are all fun ways to stay active.
You don’t always need high-intensity workouts to make an impact. Any time spent outdoors and not in front of the TV snacking is great to keep extra pounds off.
3- Watch portion sizes to avoid weight gain
While it may be totally unrealistic to completely avoid all the buttery and sugary treats during the holidays, you can be mindful of portion sizes.
Make a point to have the tiniest samples of different things you’re interested in. That way you don’t feel deprived, but you’re not really overeating either.
4- Cut back on liquid calories
Try to eliminate as many liquid calories as possible, be they through sodas or alcoholic beverages. You don’t need a double-dose of calories and sugar. If you’re going to snack on dessert, give the soda and alcohol a rest.
5- Avoid stress-eating
Whether you’re traveling, have visitors are throwing a huge party, doing last-minute gift shopping or have family issues – if you get stressed out during the holidays you’re not alone.
Some people turn to food to calm their nerves and soothe their anxiety during the stressful holiday season, but this is a great way to gain excess weight.
Finding healthy ways to cope will pay off big in the long run. For starters, make sure you get enough sleep, and try meditation, light yoga or breathing exercises to release tension.
6- Use smaller plates
Since there’s so much to sample and choose from, a super-simple way to make sure your eating is under control is to use smaller plates. You’ll have the illusion of eating a lot, but really the impact will be small. But don’t go piling the plate up sky-high. Keep it cute!
7- Weigh yourself daily
Some people dislike weighing daily, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your goals on your mind. If you go weeks without weighing in, it’s easy to ignore. But if you start each day on the scale it’s fresh in your mind and you’ll be more mindful of what you’re doing. It’s one of our favorite weight loss hacks for lazy girls. Try it out, just for this holiday season. If you don’t like it, quit afterward.
8- Skip seconds
Many holiday dinner celebrations are buffet-style, which lends itself to going back for seconds (and thirds). But don’t do this! Promise yourself you’ll limit your meal to one plate for dinner, and one dessert. That way you get to indulge a little, but you won’t go totally overboard.
9- Plan ahead
Much of the time you can get some idea of what will be served at any gathering. Whether out at a restaurant or in someone’s home. Why not plan ahead? Figure out what you’ll likely eat beforehand – at least some portion of it – so you won’t be thrown off guard at the last minute.
10- Continue diet and exercise journaling
Do you keep a weight loss journal? If not, you should! Not the same as tracking calories, a daily diet and exercise journal helps you manage your goals, actions, and feelings around weight management. If you haven’t already started, enter your details anywhere on this page to receive your FREE daily weight loss journal. Continue to use it throughout the holidays and you’ll be certain to avoid gaining extra weight.
11- Don’t start “later” – stay on top of things
A HUGE trap many of us fall into is putting off doing the right thing until “later”. Waiting until Monday to start. Waiting until the New Year. This is a huge problem because much of the time “later” never comes. Or if it does come, it doesn’t stick. The best time to stay on target is right now.
Don’t come out of weight loss or weight maintenance mode – even during the holidays. Give yourself a little wiggle room, sure, but don’t lose the mindset of keeping your goals first. You worked so hard to come this far. Why throw it all away and have to start over again (or even fall back farther)?
12- Exercise first thing in the morning
Getting the most important things out of the way at the very beginning is an incredible tool for success. Keeping that mindset to avoid weight gain during the holidays is no different. Prioritize exercise every day, no matter what. Do it early in the morning if you have to, before everybody else wakes up. That way even if some of your other efforts don’t go exactly as planned, you’ve still revved up, got a good, healthy start, and burned off some of yesterday’s shenanigans!
13- Never arrive hungry
Eating more may sound counter-intuitive but eating a healthy snack before the main event can actually help you – provided you don’t eat even when you’re not hungry. Snacking on veggies or fruit before a dinner party can keep you from impulse eating, thus preventing weight gain during the holidays.
14- Load up on lower calorie foods first
If you’re at a buffet-style dinner and you can choose what you eat and when – be strategic. Eat the lower-calorie foods first. Fill up on veggies first, then add a little mac n’ cheese. Your waistline will thank you.
15- Meet your water goal every day
If you don’t know by now that drinking water has tons of weight loss and health benefits, find a smaller rock to live under. The bottom line is you need water to thrive and staying hydrated will keep you fuller longer. Don’t slip on your water goals just because it’s the holidays. In fact, strive to drink even more water. Here are 10 ways to drink more water every day, for inspiration and tips!
16- Leave leftovers behind
We get it – it’s so tempting to take home some of that holiday ham or delicious dessert when the party host offers to pack some to go. But don’t do it! Leave the holiday food at the party so you won’t be tempted to devour it later that night.
Also, if you’re hosting, it might be good to send leftovers home with your guests. Maybe not all of it, but at least some!
17- Spend more time socializing than eating
The holidays are meant to spend quality time with those you love. So why spend it near the food, snacking? Make an effort to stay as far away from the food as possible and engage in meaningful conversation or games with your folks. You’ll keep holiday weight gain to a minimum by eating less, and you’ll have more memories to reflect on in future years.
18- Try waist beads
A neat little trick is to wear something around your waist that will act as a gentle reminder that your belly is full. You could wear a belt, sure… but a cuter, creative, more feminine method is waist beads. They’re beautifully adorned strings of beads that you tighten before you’ve eaten. You wear them underneath your garments and you feel the pressure as your belly expands. They are extremely affordable, and really sexy, to boot!
19- Eat at home more all season long
More of an overall avoid-weight-gain tip is to eat at home more in general. Going out to eat is one of the fastest ways to gain weight since you have no control over what’s being put in the food. If you’re going to many holiday parties over the last weeks of the year, make it a habit to eat at home most of the rest of the time as insurance against weight gain.
20- Skip appetizers
Skip appetizers altogether and eat just dinner and maybe one serving of dessert. You can snack your way to holiday weight gain if you’re not careful. It’s a small sacrifice to make that will go unnoticeable.
21- Eat a healthy breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast can set you up for success – especially if you opt for a protein-rich meal. Keeping hunger at bay early on can prevent you from binge eating later on in the evening.
22- Try intermittent fasting
Though not recommended to first begin intermittent fasting just before the holidays, if you get started with an intermittent plan and are used to it by the holidays, it can make your life much easier.
With intermittent fasting, you have an “on” switch, and an “off” switch. You eat exclusively during a certain time period and don’t eat at all outside of those hours.
Instead of watching what you eat super-tough, counting calories, or worrying about portion sizes, you could give yourself a 4-hour eating window.
Of course, you wouldn’t go too crazy during that time, but you could give yourself a bit of flexibility without going terribly overboard, add in a little exercise most mornings, and still avoid gaining weight during the holidays.
You Don’t HAVE To Gain Weight Over The Holidays
While most people do gain some weight during the holidays, that doesn’t have to happen to you! Come prepared with a strategy using one or more of the tips above, and you just might enter the new year even lighter than you left it.
And if you’ve been struggling with managing your weight, that could perhaps be one of the greatest holiday gifts of all.
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