Written by Annette Quatrano, MS, RD, LDN
Enjoying The Holiday Season Without Weight Gain

Enjoying The Holiday Season Without Weight Gain

We have all heard of the “freshman 15” when entering college, but maybe some of us are entering this holiday season after gaining the “quarantine 15.” Or maybe it’s part of your holiday tradition to gain 5 pounds. Whatever the case may be, it is always helpful to have some strategies to avoid weight gain that tends to happen during the holidays.

The first step is to become aware of the common drivers of weight gain this time of year. Take a step back and ask yourself the 5 W’s, and be honest, do you find yourself in any of these scenarios?


  • Are you rewarding yourself for throwing a great party/finishing the holiday shopping?
  • Using food to stay sane with family in town?
  • Too busy to exercise?


  • Your auntie’s apple pie
  • Have to get your fix of the seasonal food items like Starbuck’s pumpkin latte?
  • Tis the season for spiked eggnog, anyone?
  • Office Christmas candy (multiple mini size candies still add up to a whole candy bar!)
  • Santa’s Christmas cookies – who else is going to eat them?
  • Last chance for leftovers!


  • Company Christmas party
  • Christmas day at your parents’ house
  • Friends ugly sweater Christmas party


  • Are you eating alone after everyone leaves?
  • Eating or drinking while Christmas shopping at the mall?
  • Eating while socializing and not even realizing that you just ate?


  • Any family member you dread seeing every year that causes you to stress eat?
  • Anyone a bad influence on your health goals?
  • Who can help during this time? Do you have a support system or accountability buddy?


Identifying answers to these 5 W’s is the first step to making this holiday season different than the past. This year, I encourage you to adopt new strategies that can help to address the above challenges. Try not to make unrealistic goals or take on too much. Instead, it’s best to choose 2-3 areas to focus on:

  • Make sure to get adequate sleep. Click here for tips on how to support better sleep.
  • Stay adequately hydrated! You do not want to mistake thirst for hunger. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces (example, a 130lb person should aim for 65oz daily).
  • Write down your goals and think about how you want to feel when the holidays are over. Revisit your goals and take time to really feel them every day through the holiday season.
  • Focus on family and friends instead of the food.
  • Fill at least half your plate with colorful vegetables and have some protein to satiate you with healthy options.
  • Circle the entire buffet, check everything that is offered and then decide what to eat.
  • If possible, find a quiet place to sit and eat.
  • Try to be as mindful as possible while eating.
  • Eat before going to a party so you are not starving when you get there.
  • Take water breaks between alcoholic beverages.
  • Pick one favorite- appetizer, dessert, or alcohol to splurge on.
  • Can you make healthier versions of your favorite dishes to bring?
  • Don’t throw away your wrappers! Keep your mini candy wrappers to track how much you’ve had, you may be surprised!
  • What about freezing some seasonal items so you can have them later?
  • Plan time for stress relief into each day whether it is exercise, meditation, journaling, an Epsom salt bath, etc.
  • Partner with a family member with similar goals to help you stay on track.
  • Keep active as much as possible, even if it’s simply parking far away from the store for some additional steps.
  • Stay on track with taking your supplements even though you may be out of your routine.
  • If you do slip up, don’t feel guilty and try to start fresh the next meal/day/event.


It’s okay to enjoy your favorite holiday foods, but using some of these strategies can prevent these splurges from turning into weight gain. Using this information can help you get prepared and come up with a plan for success going into this holiday season. Here’s to making this year be the one that you do not have to have a New Year’s Resolution of weight loss!

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