Posts Tagged ‘holiday weight gain’

The holiday season is here! For better or worse, these holiday celebration often centers around food.  We enter the holidays with the best intentions of staying the course with a healthy meal plan, yet find ourselves surrounded by temptations everywhere we go. Here are some tips to help maintain weight over the holidays:

  • Treat yourself just once a day!  Indulge in one item daily and savor its taste and texture.  Take a smaller serving, or cut out an extra 100 calories later in the day or burn a few extra calories through exercise. 
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables.  Aim for 7 servings daily.  They will satisfy your appetite as they contain fiber which induces fullness.
  • Get moving.  Keep on track for your daily exercise.  Take a walk or engage in some type of physical activity daily.
  • Control the risk of temptation.  Clear your home and office of tempting holiday goodies.  If you bake, keep a small amount for your family and give the rest away.  Share any gifts of food.
  • Balance protein intake.  Holiday meals tend to be higher in carbohydrates and low in protein. Include protein with every meal.
  • Fill up on healthy food firstNever go to a party hungry.  Eat a serving of fruit, yogurt, or raw nuts before you leave for a party. Choose mindfully at the food table and take your time. 
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Those who do not sleep adequately tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and exercise less. 
  • Manage your stress.  The holidays can be a stressful time, and stressed individuals have higher     cortisol levels which contribute to increased hunger and weight gain.
  • Focus on socializing, not food.  Conversations are calorie free! 

For more ways to maintain, not gain, this season, check out the video “Five Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating” and article “Tips to enjoy holiday meals without packing on the pounds” from our OSU Extension team.

Written by Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County  lobb.3@osu.edu


Klemm, S. (2019). Helpful tips for healthy holiday parties. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Orenstein, B.W. (2015). Maintaining Weight Loss Over the Holidays. Today’s Dietitian


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During the holidays there are many temptations put in front of you.  Many companies send you food to show appreciation for your business throughout the year – boxes of chocolates, tins of cookies, and bins of flavored popcorn.  And, there are business meetings, church and social events you attend which have more high fat, high sugar snacks to tempt you during the holiday season.  Don’t lose sight of how many “treats” you try in one day or throughout the week.  You don’t have to avoid them altogether but be conscience of what you are eating.  Allow yourself one treat a day, especially if you don’t want to gain weight over the holiday season.

If you are going to a party, bring your own healthy treat to share.  Here’s one to try:

Cheesy Popcorn


¼ Cup margarine

½ Teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

¼ Teaspoon garlic powder

8 Cups warm popcorn

1/3 Cup grated parmesan cheese


Stir margarine in a large pan over medium heat until melted. Add the seasonings and popped popcorn and stir until it is completely coated. Add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Yield: makes 8 – 1 cup servings.

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 80, Total Fat: 3 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Protein: 3 g, Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sodium: 105 mg, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Vitamin A: 255 IU, Vitamin C: 0 mg, Calcium: 62 mg, Iron: 0 mg.

Source:  West Virginia University Extension Service.

To help you curb the temptation of too many food “treats,” sip water by keeping a container of water on your desk.  Add a little flavor to your water by adding slices or lemon, lime, or orange.  Research has shown that people who drank 2 cups of water before meals, over a 12 week period, lost 5 pounds more than those who did not.   If you drink sugar sweetened beverages such as sweet tea, soda or lattés try to replace them with water.  Think “WATER FIRST FOR THIRST!”  A high calorie beverage can really add on the calories.

Just keep your eye on the goal to maintain your weight over the holiday season.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension.


American Chemical Society (2010) Clinical trial confirms effectiveness of simple appetite control method.  Available at: http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=223&content_id=CNBP_025477&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=1d38a07c-5dc8-4718-b0eb-d8455408a0ac

Iowa State Extension, Holiday eating tips.  Available at: http://www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/nutritionclinic/handouts/newsletters/HolidayEatingTips.pdf

eXtension, Families, Food and Fitness (2009) Make water your number 1 beverage.  Available at:  http://www.extension.org/pages/19893/make-water-your-number-1-beverage

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One of the most enjoyed parts of the holidays are the parties, dinners, buffets and snacks to graze on. Unfortunately with all these treats come extra calories and pounds.   Research shows the average American eats approximately 4,500 calories from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  This includes around 229 grams of fat from one meal.  Most people have two others meals on this holiday!

The average American gains one to two pounds over the holiday season and although that doesn’t seem like a lot those pounds do add up contributing to people being overweight or obese throughout their life. Therefore, rather than a strict diet and exercise regime during the holidays consider shifting your goal to weight maintenance.  This should be much more attainable for the average person. Doing this allows you to still enjoy the holiday foods while not resulting in weight gain.

Trim calories whenever you can without a loss of flavor or tradition. Some ideas for making some of your favorite foods healthier are listed below.


Use low fat margarine

Replace eggs with eggbeaters or whites

Use chicken or turkey sausage rather than pork sausage

Low sodium, fat free chicken broth is a good choice

Use whole grain bread


Simple peas or corn is healthier than creamed versions

If casseroles are a must- use low fat soup instead of regular cream soup

Increase the amount of vegetables in the recipe

Use crunchy whole grain cereal instead of fried onions

Mashed Potatoes:

Make with low-fat cream cheese or lite butter

Replace some of the potatoes with steamed cauliflower—no one may even notice

Use 2% or low-fat milk or buttermilk instead of high fat versions

Make sure to end your meal with a great dessert that is sure to be a hit and  is still relatively low in calories and fat.

This dessert uses gingerbread cake and sugar free butterscotch pudding.

Pumpkin Trifle

1 package gingerbread cake mix (14 ½ ounces)

1 ¼  cups  water

1 egg or 2 egg whites

4 packages (1 ounce each) sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice or pumpkin pie spice

1 cartoon (12 ounces) frozen reduced –fat whipped topping, thawed


Bake the cake per instructions on the package. Once completely cooled crumble the cake and set aside ¼ cup crumbles for garnish.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Let stand 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Stir in pumpkin and spices until well blended.

In a trifle bowl or large glass serving bowl layer a fourth of the cake crumbs, half the pumpkin mixture, a fourth of the cake crumbs and half of the whipped topping.  Repeat layers.  Garnish with the ¼ cup reserved cake crumbs.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.  Makes 18 servings.  Each serving has 194 calories, 6 grams of fat and 31 grams of carbohydrate.

Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:   Recipes for Fall: Flavorful and Healthy– http://www.RD411.com

Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips. –www.WebMD.com

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