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6 Feel-Good Holiday Strategies from a Registered Dietitian

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The holidays are a great time to catch up with family and friends, especially with all of the parties and events taking place. However, it can be easy to pack on extra weight at this time of the year with so many tempting holiday cocktails and hors d’oeuvres floating around. Even when dinner isn’t served at an event, the chances of encountering a decadent sweet treat are highly likely.

Did you know that most people won’t ever lose their holiday weight gain? The average person gains about 1 pound during the holiday season. No need to fret, though. Here are six simple steps you can take to prepare yourself before heading into the nutritional minefield of holiday parties and dinners. By making small adjustments throughout the season, all you will gain are new memories with friends and loved ones – not unwanted pounds.

Stay on schedule with eating and exercise

  • Start your day with a morning walk or jog.
  • Take an afternoon stroll with family.
  • Have your usual breakfast and protein-rich snacks if there are large periods of time before you will eat again.

Plan ahead

Anticipate how you’ll handle certain situations. If pre-dinner nibbles are your downfall, grab a protein-rich snack before you head to the event. If you are attending a dinner party, offer to bring a lightened-up vegetable or salad so you’ll have at least one healthy option.

Don’t go hungry

Don’t starve yourself in anticipation of a big event! Try to have something, even if it’s just a small snack, every four hours or so throughout the day. Reach for foods that are high in protein or fiber and will keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Grab a snack-size cheese or protein bar before as you head out for a holiday event, especially if it’s likely that dinner won’t be served for a few hours. If you're cooking at home, shrimp cocktail or veggies with a dip made from Greek yogurt will keep you full while prepping the meal. 


Be selective, thinking ahead to what’s really worth it to you. Treat yourself to those standout items that are unique to the season, and you can unapologetically relish.

As much as possible, keep the emphasis on nutritious foods that rich in protein, fiber and/or plant-based fats. Some examples include

  • Lean proteins: shrimp cocktail, turkey, ham, pork loin
  • Veggies and salads
  • Broth or tomato-based soups
  • Low-calorie beverages and cocktails (such as those made with no-calorie mixers like water, club soda or flavored sparkling water)

Check in

Everyone’s relationship with the scale can vary. If you are one who chooses to weigh yourself regularly, keep in mind that salt and carbs can lead to fluid retention and can be reflected on the scale the next day. Therefore, if you have multiple events in a row, you may want to wait a day or two before weighing yourself.

Keep the focus on people

If your resolve starts to weaken, remind yourself to take the focus off of food and turn it back to the people around you. People are what’s really important, so spend your time and your energy really listening to what’s happening in the lives of your family and friends.

This holiday season, be inspired to live your strongest, healthiest life! Subscribe to my podcast FUELED | wellness + nutrition for the latest trends and research related to your body and mind.

Ready to change your diet for good? Our registered dietitians can help. Learn more.

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