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Ten Ways to Maintain Your Weight Over the Holidays

Use these tips and still enjoy your favorite holiday foods

Veteran talking casually at holiday partyDuring the holiday season, it can be difficult and sometimes unrealistic to lose weight. With Christmas and other holidays just around the corner, temptations of large portions, unhealthy food choices, and traditions are common.

Maintaining weight is a more realistic goal to set during the holidays when you're spending time with family and friends. Here are ten healthy holiday eating tips for maintaining your weight this season:

  1. Plan: If you know you'll 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 the foods you 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're still hungry.

  9. Position yourself away from the snack food: Avoid sitting or standing near snack foods, where you may be more likely to snack. 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 include on this year's holiday menu, try these healthy and delicious recipes:

Read More

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

Make Healthier Holiday Choices (PDF) (ChooseMyPlate)

Eat Wisely (Veterans Health Library)


Updated December 3, 2019