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December 8, 2014 • Weight Control

Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

weight gainHere is my best advice for enjoying the holidays without sabotaging your waistline and your health.


  1. Stay away from the appetite-stimulating “Great White Hazards”. This notorious group of easily digested carb foods including white flour products, white rice, white potatoes, and sugars/sweets make you hungrier.  Holidays are already a dietary pitfall for most and these foods add insult to injury.  Choose whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes as much healthier alternatives to the starchy white stuff.    Try bean salad instead of potato salad; brown rice over white rice; 100% whole grain crackers or breads over white bread; sweet potatoes or winter squash over white potatoes. And just say NO to the rolls and biscuits!
  2. Fill your tummy up first with foods that have lots of bulk but minimal calories, i.e. the “big, yet skinny” fruits and veggies.  Physical bulk (stuff) in the GI tract provides great appetite suppression.  At holiday gatherings, go straight to the fruit and veggie platter first and really indulge; use high fat/oil-based dips sparingly.  If available, make bean dips (hummus) your first choice. Eat a big tossed salad or a couple of servings of a veggie side dish before the rest of the meal. Fill at least half of your plate with fruits, veggies, and bean dishes before serving the rest of your meal.
  3. Don’t let yourself get too hungry! It takes fewer calories to prevent marked hunger than it does to deal with it once it occurs!Do not skip a meal earlier in the day to “save up” for the holiday feast. Eat a robust breakfast with an abundance of fiber and a nice dose of protein for better appetite control over the remainder of the day.   Have a snack an hour before you arrive at a holiday gathering.  My top snack choice would be a small handful of nuts along with a piece of fruit (apple) or fresh raw veggies (handful of carrots) dipped in hummus.
  4. Make exercise a priority! It’s a fantastic safeguard against weight gain and helps compensate for holiday indulgences.  It’s also the perfect tonic for the stress and anxiety we all experience during the holiday season (many people binge when stressed). Taking a long walk right after a large holiday meal can aid in digestion and is fantastic for alleviating the bloat and fatigue that naturally ensues after eating too much.
  5. Be prudent in satisfying your sweet tooth. Fresh fruit salad, a fruit-based dessert, or a piece of high quality dark chocolate would be my top dessert pick. If you prefer other goodies, be very mindful of your portions.
  6. Get your beauty rest! Provocative new science reveals that sleep deprivation enhances appetite and increases cravings for high risk foods like sweets, chips, breads and pasta.   Additionally, sleep deprivation zaps energy and enthusiasm for exercise. Strive for at least 7 hours of quality sleep the night prior to your holiday gatherings.
  7. Eat mindfully – give every meal, every snack and every bite your undivided attention. Eat slowly and be conscious of how delicious your food tastes – savor the whole experience. Don’t linger over the buffet table or hover over the hors d’oeuvres nibbling as you engage in conversation. Get up from the table immediately after finishing your meal to reinforce that eating has come to an end. And pre-plate everything (meals, hors d’oeuvres, dessert etc).  We tend to eat less if we can view it all before we start.


Enjoy the holidays and your health!