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The holiday season is fast approaching. It’s so easy to gain weight! Fortunately there is a plan to avoid it. Here are some tips for maintaining or even losing weight.

1. Drink Lots of Water

Eggnog, sodas and alcoholic beverages are loaded with empty calories. Replacing a sugary beverage with water can help cut hundreds of calories out of a person’s diet. Those trying to lose weight should drink at least 8-10 cups of water a day; drinking water before a meal can make it easier to eat less. And, studies have also shown that water can boost a person’s metabolism by up to 34%.

2. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently

People have been taught from birth that they should eat three big meals a day. But, research tells us that those who eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day tend to weigh less. Some overindulge because they wait too long to eat. Eating smaller meals more frequently will help keep you full and prevent overeating.

3. Exercise Portion Control

One of the main reasons for weight gain during the holidays is eating large portions. If you want to lose weight during the holiday season, you must exercise portion control. There are many delicious foods to try during this time of the year, and it’s fine to try some, but the key is consuming everything in small quantities.

4. Get Moving

During the holidays, it’s harder to squeeze in an exercise session. Those who don’t have the time to exercise can lose weight by doing daily activities. Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you lose weight. Playing with the kids and cleaning the house burn calories and can help, too.

5. Eat A Small Snack Before Going To The Party

Holiday parties are a fun way to spend time with family and friends. However, almost all holiday parties have several tempting food choices. Eating a small snack before you go will help prevent overindulgence. A protein with a small fruit is a good choice.

6. Eat More Slowly

Eating more slowly can lead to weight loss. Scientists have found that it takes about 20 minutes for the human brain to register that a person is full. People who eat fast often continue to eat after they are full. This practice can help you lose 2-3 pounds during the holiday season.

7. Set A Goal

Those who want to lose weight during the holiday season need to set a goal. It should be kept in a prominent place and be easily accessible. Those who stay focused on their goal will be more likely to reach their ideal weight.

8. Limit Alcohol

Drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it likely you’ll forget about your plan and overindulge. Plus, alcohol is high in empty calories. If you can party-hop without drinking at all, you’ll be better off. If you must drink, nurse your glass slowly. Choose water or teas instead. If you do decide to drink alcohol, make sure you add every drink to your nutrition tracker.

9. Track Your Food

That means all of it, from the spoonful of cookie batter you ate while baking to the free sample of ham at the grocery store. These “hidden” calories are easy to gloss over but really add up. If you do nothing else during the holidays, track your food diligently every day.

10. Plan Your Holiday Meals

Plan your meals and snacks in advance so you can enjoy your favorites while staying on track. Before you head to another party or sit down for a holiday dinner, pre-track your food. Find places to cut back on calories in order to splurge a little more on your holiday meal. Decide which foods you’ll have (and how much) and use your nutrition tracker to stay within your calorie range.

11. Re-gift Treats And Food

Of course, your loved ones mean well when they give you delicious food and candy gifts. But just because they give them, does not mean you have to eat them! There are plenty of opportunities to re-gift food over the holidays: bring them to parties, potlucks, and other get-togethers. Or, donate store-bought food to a local food pantry or hospital to spread the holiday spirit. Take home-baked goods to a homeless shelter.

12. Bring Your Food To Work

If you feel guilty about re-gifting, bring them to work. Share them in a communal space like the office café.

13. Add 10 Extra Minutes Of Cardio To Your Days

Some experts say that adding just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise to your usual workout routine can counter the effects of a little extra holiday eating. You can spare an extra 10 minutes, right? Even if you can’t fit it in all at once, try to do small amounts throughout the day. High-intensity moves like jumping jacks, high-knee running in place, or jumping rope all work.

14. Keep An Emergency Snack On Hand

Stashing some healthy and portable foods in your car, purse, and desk drawer can help satisfy your cravings and prevent you from going overboard on all the wrong foods. This is a good idea when you’re hungry at work and cookies sound tempting, or when you’re shopping late at the mall and hear the food court calling.

15. Keep Your Eye On The Prize

Before you take a bite or hit snooze instead of hitting the gym, remember your goals. It’s going to take work to get there and survive the holiday season. Before you act, ask yourself, “Will this help me get where I want to go?” If not, make another decision. And remember that you are in control during the holidays.

Don’t make mountains out of molehills. It’s easy to go over your calorie limit one day and feel like a failure. Remember, it takes much more than one day of overeating to thwart your progress. Accept your slip-ups, learn from them, put them behind you, and move on!