In The Spotlight

Ten Ways to Maintain Your Weight Over the Holidays

Contributed by Jessica E. Greene, RD and Tonja Moore, MS, RD, LD

During the holiday season, it is difficult and sometimes unrealistic to lose weight. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, temptations of large portions, unhealthy food choices, and tradition are frequent. Maintaining weight is a more realistic goal to set during the holidays when you're spending time with family and friends. Here are 10 healthy holiday eating tips in order to maintain weight during the holiday season.

  1. Plan ahead: If you know you will be eating in a holiday or party setting, make smart choices before the party. Have a snack at home, such as a piece of fruit or dry cereal. Feeling hungry can sabotage your efforts.
  2. Just a taste: Be selective and choose foods you really want. Often just a taste will satisfy cravings. Remember to socialize away from the food to decrease nibbling.
  3. Conversation is calorie free: Take the time to meet and enjoy people. Join the festivities and remember that the holidays are a celebration of family and friends.
  4. Drink to your health: Limit high calorie beverages such as eggnog, champagne, wine and alcoholic drinks. Try sparkling water, seltzer or diet soda instead. Alcohol stimulates the appetite and quickly adds extra calories.
  5. Burn it up! After a holiday meal, take a walk. Walking burns calories and helps deal with holiday stress. Invite family or friends to walk with you.
  6. Avoid overindulging in desserts: Allow yourself one treat at each gathering and enjoy it without guilt!
  7. Eat slowly: Take time at holiday meals to taste the food and enjoy the company.
  8. Listen to your stomach: Stop eating before you feel stuffed. Wait 30 minutes before going back for seconds, and only if you are still hungry.
  9. Position yourself away from the snack food: Avoid sitting or standing near snack foods while at gatherings, where you may be more likely to snack. Choose low calorie snacks whenever possible such as vegetables, fruits or pretzels.
  10. Don't be a Grinch: Forget the "all or nothing" mindset. Depriving yourself of special foods or feeling guilty when you enjoy them isn't part of a healthy eating strategy, and it's not part of the holiday spirit! Enjoy special foods in small portions and truly taste and savor them!

Remember: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's are only three days out of the 6-week holiday period. One day's overindulgence will not ruin your long-term diabetes control. But, six weeks of not following your meal plan will make getting back in control much more difficult. You may want to schedule to see your dietitian or diabetes provider, or plan to attend a support group during this busy time to build up your "emotional batteries."

Modifying Recipes for a Healthier Twist:

  • Replace butter with olive or canola oil
  • Use non-fat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk
  • Limit margarine and butter
  • Use lean meats rather than fatty meats such as: chicken, fish, turkey or lean red meat
  • Bake, broil, or steam rather than fry
  • Start with less fat, sugar and salt than called for.

Learn more:

Eating on Special Occasions MOVE! (PDF)
Make Healthier Holiday Choices ChooseMyPlate (PDF)
Eat Wisely Veterans Health Library


Updated/Reviewed: November 8, 2016