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7 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable time filled with family, love and joy. They can also be a time of cookies, mashed potatoes, fruitcake, baked brie, and every sweet known to man! So, how do you keep the holiday over-indulgence in check and limit the holiday weight gain? Here are my top tips:


Whether it’s a large group brunch event or a traditional family dinner, opt to fill up with veggies or fruit before tackling the rest of the meal. For breakfast this may mean a small fruit bowl first and dinner could be starting with a small salad or some roasted veggies. Either way, you will fill up some space in your stomach to help curb your hunger sooner. And you’ll also get a bunch of good nutrients in your system—-something that’s often missing from our holiday favorites!


Instead of having every course at every meal be a ‘splurge,’ choose your splurges wisely. Not every dessert and every appetizer is worthy of your attention so make some choices based on what you know are your favorites or what are the things you really want to try. This way you will limit unnecessary snacking and will also allow yourself to truly savor the splurges you want to enjoy without guilt.


Alcohol can have a huge impact on holiday weight gain. Not only does it provide additional calories but it lowers your inhibitions which can weaken your “resist the baked brie’ drive! In addition, alcohol can negatively impact your sleep, leaving you tired and setting you up to turn to food to address the fatigue. To minimize the impacts, have a drinking plan for each holiday event. Decide what you are going to drink (something light and low-calorie is best) and how much and be sure to space out your drinks with lots of water.


You may not have much control over the food that’s around you during the holidays, but you can always make the decision to fit in exercise. Even if you are short on time, you can throw in a 15-minute HIIT workout or a brisk walk before dinner. Exercising throughout the holidays will help burn up some calories and amp up your metabolism. But, more importantly, it will help keep you focused on your health and feeling good, strong-willed, and clear-headed: all things that will help stop you from giving in to unnecessary temptation.


A holiday meal should be enjoyed—–as THAT holiday meal ONLY; not as 4 more holiday meals. You should allow yourself to indulge and enjoy the meal, but leave it at that. One of the best ways to do this is by avoiding the ‘leftovers trap.’ If you are hosting, don’t make too much and be prepared to handout Tupperware to your guests as they leave. If you are the guest, you can politely say no, or take the leftovers and donate them to the homeless on the way home.


All-or-nothing thinking is very common during the holidays. This is the idea of labeling the entire last 3 weeks of December as ‘the holidays’ and writing off the whole period of time with the thought of cleaning things up on January 1st. The reality is that 2 or 3 large or unhealthy meals will have almost no impact in the long-term, but 15 or 20 meals starts to change things. And, there has been a lot of research showing that holiday weight gain tends to stay with you throughout the year. Avoid this trap by reminding yourself that you have control over ALL of the other non-event meals during the holiday season. Making healthy choices during those meals will ensure that the impact of the big meals is much more minimal.


We all do better with a little support and accountability, and the holiday time is no different. Find a friend or family member with similar health goals and make a plan. You can share goals for each meal, agree to give each other reminders, or simply choose to check in with each other each day and give a daily report. Whatever you plan, having someone committed to the same goals will help with motivation and commitment! (Need more accountability? Check out my Coaching Program!)

So, the holidays don’t need to set you up for that unhealthy and unsuccessful crash diet! You can enjoy the holidays and all of its indulgences without ending the season needed new clothing. Using the tips above, make a plan that works for you and enjoy your holiday season!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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