How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Enjoy festive meals without gaining a single pound. The MyRecipes registered dietitians share their best strategies for navigating the holiday dinner table.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gainenlarge

Photo: Beau Gustafson; Styling: Cathy Stills Johnson

Putting on a few pounds after a round of holiday meals is not inevitable if you use a few of these simple eating strategies.

  • Don't skip breakfast. If you starve yourself all day in anticipation of the big meal, you're more likely to overeat and feel uncomfortable. You might want to eat a lighter breakfast than normal, but don't skip it.
  • If you're asked to contribute to the meal, bring a low-fat or low-calorie dish that you know you can enjoy without guilt. Fresh veggies and dips, fresh fruit, low-calorie casseroles or low-fat fruit desserts are always good options.
  • Drink as much water as you can before and during the meal.
  • Replace pre-meal nibbling by sipping water or a low-calorie beverage and munching on fresh veggies and low-calorie dip.
  • Get at the end of the line if the meal is being served buffet-style. That will give you less time to go back for seconds.
  • Fill up your plate with low-fat items such as white meat turkey, roasted vegetables, green salads, and either fresh fruit or a fruit dessert.
  • Go easy on the veggies covered in cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Select a whole grain roll if they're available and leave off the butter.
  • Use a salad plate instead of a large dinner plate to help with portion control.
  • Keep healthy proportions in mind as you fill your plate: One half of your plate should be vegetables, one fourth protein, and one fourth carbohydrate.
  • Keep up with the calories you drink. One 5-ounce glass of white wine has about 145 calories.
  • Finish your meal with a cup of hot tea or coffee. While you're sipping, you'll have time to receive the signal from your body that it's full.
  • Practice saying, ''No, thank you. I've had plenty.'' And mean it.
  • Excuse yourself from the table after the meal so you won't be tempted to keep nibbling. If possible, go outside and take a brisk walk.
  • Volunteer for a clean-up chore that is away from the kitchen so you won't be tempted to keep eating.


For more tips on holiday weight control:
How to Prevent Holiday Pounds
100-Calorie Snacks
11 Simple Ways to Cut Calories

By Anne Cain, RD
Nov, 2008
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