Holiday Weight: Maintain, Don’t Gain

Ten tips to help you enjoy your favorite holiday foods

During the holiday season, it can be unrealistic to lose weight. Meal-time traditions are a big part of the holidays, so it's natural to be tempted by unhealthy choices. Right now, maintaining your weight can be a more realistic goal.

Here are ten tips for maintaining your weight:

  1. Plan: If you know you'll be eating a larger meal with your household, make smart choices before the meal. Have a snack before dinner, such as a piece of fruit.  

  2. Watch your portions: Often a smaller portion will still satisfy cravings. Be mindful of how many servings of each food you put on your plate.

  3. It's not only about the meal: Take the time to catch up with your household. Schedule a video call with friends and family. Remember that the holidays are a celebration of loved ones. Food doesn’t have to be the central focus.

  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.

  6. Avoid overindulging in desserts: Allow yourself to enjoy desserts in moderation. Watching your servings can help you enjoy treats without any guilt.

  7. Eat slowly: Take time at holiday meals to really savor the food and enjoy it.

  8. Listen to your stomach: Stop eating before you feel stuffed. Wait 30 minutes before going back for seconds, and only if you're still hungry.

  9. Beware of snack foods: Choose low-calorie snacks when 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. Enjoy special foods in small portions.

Holiday Recipes from the VA

Eating healthier doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your taste buds. If you're unsure of what to make this year, try these healthy and delicious recipes:

Spinach and White Bean Soup:

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins:

Chicken and Rice Casserole:

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Read More

Eating on Special Occasions (PDF) (MOVE! Weight Management Program)

Five Ways to Achieve Your Healthy Weight 

Eat Wisely (Veterans Health Library)

Updated November 21, 2022