The holidays are here and with them come some unwelcome guests — and not just in the form of in-laws! Many people struggle with post-holiday weight gain, but there are ways to shed those extra pounds in time for New Year’s or better yet, avoid gaining them in the first place.

We all know that gluttony is frowned upon, but with holiday foods, cookies, treats and parties, sometimes overindulgence is hard to avoid. 

“It has been said that people can gain up to 20 pounds from Halloween to New Years Eve,” says Taalib Smith, Personal Trainer at Big Vanilla.

You Don’t Have to Go at it Alone

Kim Croteau MS, RD with Nutrition.Gov says, ”The Department of Health and Human Services issued Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008 and states that adults (ages 18-64) should get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity.” Check here for more information.

If you could stand to lose a few pounds gifted to you by the holiday season, perhaps joining a gym, finding a workout class you enjoy or having a fitness buddy or personal trainer hold you accountable could assist you in this endeavor. Croteau also suggests organizing a walking group with friends, co-workers or neighbors during the holidays to ensure that you stay active.

Don’t Give into Temptation around the Holidays

While losing added weight is certainly one option to combat post-holiday pounds, not gaining it in the first place is the healthiest and most satisfying option long-term. Not giving in to temptation is difficult at times, especially when faced with decisions like buttery mashed potations or pumpkin pie. But by arming yourself with healthy eating tips and a holiday workout plan, this might just be one battle you can win.

Hosting? Take Control of Food Offerings

If you are hosting a party or family gathering this holiday season, then you have control over what goodies make their way to the table. Offer healthy options and sweets that may be lower in sugar and fat. 

Fruit and veggie trays can be arranged to be both pleasing to the eye and to the palate. They make great appetizers and can help fill an empty stomach enough to avoid overindulging at dinner. 

Fruit tarts are healthier alternatives to pies and cakes, and cheese platters can serve as either a dessert or an appetizer, depending on the variety chosen. Dipping fruit in chocolate is a sweet way to dress up a fruit platter and make it a more inspiring dessert option.

Find Healthy Recipes & Substitutes 

Both Smith and Croteau suggest finding healthy recipes this season. Whether you are hosting or bringing a dish as a guest, if there are healthy options that are also delicious, you and your guests may not have to choose between good and good for you. 

Substituting whole wheat flour (at least partially) in baked goods and cutting down on fats by substituting applesauce for butter while baking are two simple tips Croteau offers for altering recipes to be a little more health-conscious.

Make Merry with Fun Activities

Food and drink seem to be the go-to activity when spending time talking with friends and family around the holidays. Smith suggests spending time together in other ways by engaging in some sort of physical activity, whether it be bike riding, CrossFit, running or even a game of backyard football with the family. He encourages us to do some sort of physical activity every day. 

“Try sneaking in a few minutes of getting your heart rate up. Even if you are not planning on doing anything, you’d be surprised how simple it is to sneak a workout into your day without going to the gym. Remember you can take fitness everywhere.”

Pack away Leftovers to Avoid Over-eating

While most of us wait until after dinner to concern ourselves with leftovers (if there are any) both Smith and Croteau suggest packing leftovers before eating to avoid eating more than necessary. When dining out, Smith suggests asking for half of your entrée to be put in a take-home container before you begin eating your meal while dining out, and Croteau suggests sharing  a meal with a friend or family member, saving both money and calories.

Remember: Well-Being is a Long-term Goal

Croteau reminds us that while it is important to practice healthy eating habits, a few moments of weakness will not be devastating. “Calorie balance over time is the key to weight management.  Remember that one day or even a few days of indulging in holiday foods will not cause long-term damage to your health. It is the overall pattern of eating that makes the greatest impact,” she says.

The holidays are a time for friends and family. They are a time to reflect on the blessed lives we lead, pray and serve those less fortunate and ultimately have fun with those we love. 

Whatever you do this holiday season, be sure to take a moment to reflect on the positives in your life and be thankful for food, friends and family!

Below is a list of more resources for healthy eating this season.


Weight-management; Strategies-success

Dietary Guidelines

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