Holiday Survival Without Weight Gain

No matter what holidays you celebrate, it usually means crazy schedules and lots of food. But just because life gets hectic and food constantly surrounds us, it doesn’t have to be a time of added stress and weight gain. You can get though the holidays without packing on the pounds. Here are some tips to help you survive the holidays and prevent weight gain:

Eat Regular Meals

Don't skip meals to “save up” for the big holiday feast. This is unhealthy for anyone --especially harmful if you have diabetes-- because it can lead to low blood glucose. Further, if you arrive to the meal starving, you’ll end up overeating. Instead, eat regular meals throughout the day and a snack before you head out to the celebration. Here are some examples of healthy, low-calorie foods:


  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal topped with 2 tablespoons nuts or flaxseed and 1 cup fresh fruit
  • 2 slices whole-wheat toast with 1 tablespoon light margarine, 1 egg and 1 container light yogurt


  • Grilled chicken salad [lettuce (dark greens preferred), 1/2 cup mandarin oranges, 3 ounces grilled chicken, 1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheese and 2 tablespoons light poppy seed dressing], 6 crackers and 1 container light yogurt
  • 6-inch Subway sandwich (6 grams of fat or less options)
  • 1 cup low-sodium soup, 6 crackers, 1 fruit and a small side salad with light dressing


  • 6 whole-wheat crackers with 1 slice cheese (or 3 cheese cubes)
  • 6 whole-wheat crackers with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 cups raw vegetables with dipping sauce of 2 tablespoons light ranch or other light dressing
  • 1 container light yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons granola


Exercise -- Take a walk before the meal.

Contribute -- Bring a healthy dish or appetizer to ensure you have something nutritious to eat.

Wear Something Fitted and Fabulous -- You’re less apt to eat when you’re feeling great about how you look (and conscience of how snug your clothes are fitting). Leave the stretch clothes and elastic waistbands at home, and don't loosen your belt in anticipation that you’ll need the extra room.

Drink Before Eating -- Drink a 16-ounce glass of water or a diet beverage before the meal to fill your stomach and help reduce the amount you’re eating.

Distance Yourself -- Sit as far away from the buffet as you can. You will be less tempted to nibble and overeat.

Take Small Portions -- Make smart choices by taking “baby portions” of foods you really want to try. The bigger the portion, the more the calories. If your body does not use the calories --perhaps because you’ll be sitting and watching the game-- you’ll store most of the meal as fat.

Keep It Moving -- Plan a walk, dance or an active game two hours after your meal.

Minimize Alcohol Consumption -- Alcohol is high in calories without any nutritional value, especially when mixed with juices or sodas. One mixed drink can have up to 500 calories. Limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women per day.

Focus on Socializing -- Put your fork down between bites, slow down, eat less and enjoy the company; hang out with the talkers vs. the eaters: eating is contagious, so don’t surround yourself with the people who are pigging out

Beware of Holiday Beverages -- Besides alcohol, watch out for special holiday beverages, such as eggnog (get ready for 2,100 jumping jacks to burn off one 8-ounce glass). Fruit punches can be rich and full of sugar.

The information on this page was compiled by Michelle Preston RD, LD/LDN, CDE, Christian Hospital. This material provides general information only. It should not be used in place of the advice, instructions, or treatment given by your doctor or other health care professional.