7 Strategies to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

November 21, 2014 Updated: November 20, 2014

The season of celebrations is upon us, filled with delectable foods that often seem impossible to resist. Starting with Halloween candy through to the Thanksgiving feast, Christmas and Hanukkah merriment, and New Year’s Eve bash, we are surrounded by glorious culinary masterpieces and the temptations they represent.

While people often worry about gaining 5 or more pounds over the holidays, research suggests that this estimate is somewhat exaggerated. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the average weight gain is only about 1 pound.

Nevertheless, many people get derailed from their normal eating habits and struggle with losing the extra weight after the jubilee is over.

Here are some simple strategies to help you maneuver your way through the festivities without compromising your dedication to staying healthy.

1. Plan Ahead. The best way to avoid overeating or eating too much of the “wrong” thing at parties and dinner engagements is to eat beforehand.

Do not go to a social gathering hungry. Instead, have a healthy snack such as a protein shake, a piece of lean turkey, or some fruit and vegetable slices an hour or so before you head out the door.

2. Wear Your Best Outfit. Looking good is another great strategy to avoid overeating. Whether it is a pair of skinny jeans or a fancy form-fitting dress, showing off the year’s effort of staying healthy will help you feel good and stay committed to your wellness goals.

3. Socialize When You’re Socializing. A simple way to avoid temptation is to find distractions. The holidays are a time to catch up with loved ones, so join the conversations and stay active at gatherings.

Play with the children and pets, help with the cleanup, or take a quick walk with your favorite relative.

4. Try a Little of Everything. Sample the food, but take just a little of each dish. Avoid second helpings, and slow down. The first bite is usually the best anyway.

If you are hosting a dinner party, consider serving with smaller plates, bowls, and glasses to help yourself and your guests with portion control.

5. Freeze Leftovers. There are always plenty of delicious leftovers after a holiday feast. Instead of leaving them on the counter top or in the fridge, freeze them right away to remove temptation from plain sight. Then, add sensible portions to your meals in the days ahead.

6. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol tends to be a big part of holiday celebrations, but don’t forget that it contains lots of calories.

There are about 120 calories in a glass of white wine, 150 in a bottle of beer, 140 in a 12-ounce can of soda, and usually more than 220 in one cup of eggnog without the rum. So, weigh the pros and cons before you reach for that alluring drink.

7. Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking water makes us feel full, reduces how much we eat, and facilitates weight loss. Drinking plenty of water is an easy way to counter weight gain all year round and is especially helpful when tempting cuisine is gleaming in sight.

Use these simple strategies to avoid adding to your waistline this holiday season. Most importantly, however, don’t berate yourself if you falter. Just pick up with your healthy habits and move on.

Leslie Mary Olsen is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach, fitness coaching specialist, and licensed massage therapist. She holds a master’s degree in health policy and has over 30 years of experience in the health-and-wellness field.