Avoiding holiday weight gain may sound as feasible as Santa fitting down billions of chimneys on Christmas Eve, but we promise there are logical strategies to stay on track. Many of us experience weight gain during the festive summer months, but packing on a few pounds in December is far from inevitable. Don’t get us wrong—the holiday season is all about celebrating, having fun, and indulging. So pass the eggnog and yule log (in moderation) and let’s tackle, in nine ways, how to navigate holiday party food spreads, hectic schedules, and side-lined gym routines—without turning into Mr. Scrooge.
Skipping breakfast or lunch in order to “save your appetite” probably isn’t the best weight-maintenance tactic. There's a reason it's considered the most important meal of the day. By skipping breakfast, it means you're more likely to binge later on in the day. Make sure to stick to a reasonably sized breakfast with plenty of protein, which will help tone down the urge to indulge later on.
Snacking on vegetables and other high-fibre items like legumes can help keep us fuller for longer (though there’s always space for dessert). Give the vegetable platter a second chance with a healthy and tasty dip.
Drinking water helps people feel full, and as a result, consume fewer calories. Rather than drink calorie and sugar-laden sodas and juices treat yourself to a glass of wine with dinner and keep your allegiance to water for the rest of the day.
When you’ve got a hankering for some seasonal eggnog, reach for a tall, thin glass, not a short, rounded one. While it may sound like you’re discriminating against your glasses, research shows people pour less liquid into tall, narrow glasses than into their vertically challenged counterparts. With a taller glass, you’re likely to down less in one sitting (which is especially helpful when drinking alcohol).
The closer we’re situated to food that’s in our line of vision, the more we’ll actually consume. A simple fix? Face away from the dessert spread and listen to cues from your gut rather than your eyes.
Many of us demonise certain foods and even punish ourselves for indulgences. Instead, positive messages like “I can control my eating” or “I’m proud that I ate responsibly today” can reframe our relationship with food. Research shows positive expectations are associated with weight loss. Even if it feels a little silly, try telling yourself at least one positive affirmation per day.
7. Out of sight, out of tummy
If you end up with loads of leftovers on your kitchen counter, pack up the extras and stash them in the freezer for a later date. When the food is out of sight, studies show you’ll be less likely to reach for a second helping.
8. Chew slowly…
Eating slowly may not be easy when appetizer options are endless, but it pays off to pace yourself. The quicker we eat, the less time the body has to register fullness. So slow down and take a second to savour each bite of baked brie and scoop of spiced nuts.
9. Just say "no"
Though Grandma or Uncle Bob may encourage overeating by shoving seconds onto an already cleaned plate, it’s okay to respectfully decline. “I’m full” or “I’m taking a break” should be enough for friends and family members to back off (and give you some time to decide if you’d really like more).