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6 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain This Year

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Many people feel like avoiding holiday weight loss is impossible with all the gatherings and sweet treats, but there are ways to enjoy the holidays without overindulging.
  • With strategies to manage cravings and a firm commitment to your weight loss goals, you can maintain your weight loss goals without missing out on the fun.
  • Planning ahead, increasing your physical activity, and reducing stress are all great ways to prevent weight gain during the holidays.
  • Holding yourself accountable for your weight loss progress puts you in the driver’s seat for overcoming the challenges associated with the holidays and maintaining your success.

The holidays are a time for enjoyment, gathering, sweet ciders, and delicious treats. With all these fun factors, many feel that the holidays are hopeless for their weight loss goals. In one survey about holiday goals, only 35% of people reported wanting to lose weight compared to 64% in the pre-holiday assessment. Meanwhile, 47% hoped to avoid weight gain, while 11% said they solely wanted to limit weight gain.

Clearly, for many, the threat of weight gain is top of mind during the holidays, while many others feel it’s inevitable. However, if you’re steadfast in trying to lose or maintain weight, the holidays don’t have to derail your goals.

A bit of mindfulness and planning can go a long way toward allowing you to bask in the holiday spirit without overindulging or overly rigid dieting during the holidays. With a few tips, you’ll be well-equipped to skip the holiday weight gain without missing any of the enjoyment this time of year.

Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Between social gatherings, added stress, and exciting holiday baking recipes, avoiding holiday weight gain can feel impossible. Going all in on the holiday treats will set you off track, but too much restriction in dieting during the holidays isn’t good either. The following strategies will help you build around your lifestyle so that you can find the right balance this holiday season.

1. Plan Ahead

If you arrive at that holiday party hungry, you’re more likely to overindulge on some of the sweet treats. Prepare yourself for the holiday parties and meals by taking steps to manage your hunger beforehand.

  • Eat a healthy snack before heading over to a family or friend’s holiday meal.
  • Drink water before you head to your holiday party or dinner to make you feel more full.
  • If you’re planning on going out to eat with your friends or family, look up the menu in advance to find an item that fits in line with your health goals.
  • Discuss your goals with your friends and family and recommend the opportunity to incorporate healthy options for holiday dinners.
  • Prepare your own meals to bring to parties so that you have more control over your options.


2. Incorporate Mindful Eating

Dieting isn’t a good word, and it comes with so many negative connotations. Harsh restrictions are not only unpleasant, but they also rarely result in sustainable progress.

However, the mindset of “It’s the holidays—there’s no point in trying to sustain my weight loss,” and going all in on the treats is not productive either. By following mindful eating practices, you can balance healthy eating and moderation without restricting yourself too much.

Some tips to consider for mindful eating include:

  • Choose high-quality foods – Remember, food is fuel. Choose foods that will nourish and leave you feeling satisfied, like lean proteins, fiber-rich foods, and fruits and vegetables, instead of eating a high quantity of not-very-nutritious foods.
  • Minimize high-calorie beverages – The calories from sugary drinks like alcohol or ciders can add up quickly without you even realizing it. Turn to herbal tea or water as alternatives.
  • Use smaller plates – Smaller plates can help you limit portion sizes and recognize the amount of food you’re actually taking so that you’re less likely to overdo it.
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking water makes you feel more full so you don’t over-snack. It also keeps you from turning to sugary beverages to try and quench your thirst.
  • Eat slowly – Taking your time allows your body to process the food you eat so you realize when you start to feel full and don’t stretch it past the limit.
  • Don’t skip meals – It’s better to maintain a consistent schedule of healthy meals rather than skip them. Skipping meals can leave you hungry and cause you to snack more.
  • Don’t sit down for a meal too full or too hungry On a scale of one to five — five being completely full and one being completely hungry — aim to be sitting down at every meal at a 3. If you’re eating at a one (completely hungry), it means you’ve likely skipped a meal or waited too long and are at risk of overindulging. If you’re sitting down to a meal at a five (completely full), it means you’re not really hungry and just eating to eat and also at risk of overeating or eating past fullness.

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3. Increase Physical Activity

Although there is more nuance involved, at a fundamental level, weight gain happens when you eat more calories than your body is able to burn. If you’re eating more calories during the holiday season, then you can offset that by stepping up your physical activity a bit. That doesn’t mean you have to run a mile for every cookie you eat, though, as this isn’t exactly a healthy approach either.

However, physical activity has several benefits, including boosting your metabolism, so you can’t go wrong with adding a little extra movement. Think of it as turning some of those extra calories into fuel and energy for your next activity.

Some ways to do this include:

  • Making time to go to the gym if you have a membership. Even if you’re not doing a full workout, maintaining your rhythm of going to the gym on a regular cadence can make the difference between abandoning your routine or keeping it going strong when you come out of the holiday busyness.
  • Engaging in family or group activities that involve movement
  • Getting your steps in by going for a morning walk or jog 
  • Adding physical activity into your holiday routines, like pre- or post-meal walks or family sports


4. Prioritize Sleep and Stress Reduction

Around the holidays, it’s easy to blame sweets and treats as the only reasons for weight gain. Although these can certainly play a role, sleep deprivation and stress are two other often overlooked contributors.

Don’t let the excitement and preparation of the holidays keep you from getting the sleep you need—sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. Missing out on sleep causes your body to increase the production of a hormone called ghrelin, which makes you hungry and can lead to overeating.

Improve your sleep by:

  • Avoiding your phone screen 1-2 hours before bed
  • Ensuring a dark, quiet sleeping environment
  • Steering clear of caffeine 10-12 hours before bed
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day

Stress can also cause holiday weight gain. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which can slow your metabolism and increase body fat storage. Stress-eating is also a very real factor, as stress can increase your appetite and force cravings.

You can reduce your stress levels by making time for relaxation techniques. Try practices like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Even making a bit of time each day for hobbies you enjoy, like reading or art activities, can give you a chance to wind down and reduce stress.


5.  Implement Effective Social Strategies

We’ve all experienced peer pressure when practicing mindful eating—“Come on, you can’t miss out on dessert.” You know what your goals are, so don’t let others throw you off.

Preparing for social gatherings and potential pressures in advance will help you remain firm in sticking to your goals. Think about how you might respond to potential pressures and ways you can politely decline. Holding conversations away from the snack table can also help you avoid unwanted offers.

There’s also room for compromise—offer to split a dessert with a friend or family member or take a small piece of pecan pie if you really want some. You don’t have to turn down every offer, but remember your mindful eating practices and consider how to balance your goals with enjoying the holidays.


6. Maintain Accountability

The number one thing you need throughout your weight loss journey is accountability. Remember that the power to achieve your goals is in your hands. External factors can play an important role, but ultimately, you’re at the center of your journey and have all the control in adapting to them.

It’s important not to place blame on anyone for roadblocks or discourage yourself from trying to lose weight over the holidays. If you stick to your goals and remember the “why” behind your weight loss journey, you can overcome those external factors.

Accountability is important, but it’s also important to realize it can be hard to maintain accountability on your own. As part of our programs here at re:vitalize, our expert health coaches provide accountability with daily text message check-ins, as well as weekly and monthly progress monitoring check-ins. Our team is committed to your success, providing you with the support you need to succeed.

7. Weigh Yourself Everyday. 

Unless daily weighing is an emotional trigger for you, we recommend continuing to weigh yourself each day, EVEN IF you don’t intend to lose weight during the holiday (or even if you’re gaining weight). Here’s why: U.S. researchers found that those who weighed themselves daily through the holidays gained less weight than those who didn’t. What gets measured gets managed. 


Maintain a Healthy Weight with re:vitalize Weight Loss and Wellness

The holiday season is a challenge for anyone on a weight loss journey, but mindfulness and moderation can help you overcome it. It’s okay to enjoy this time of year. Whether that means having a piece of pumpkin pie or a glass of wine, a little indulgence won’t derail your weight loss journey as long as you hold true to your goals. 

You can find the perfect compromise through our Flexible Lifestyle Program at re:vitalize weight loss and wellness. This program works within your lifestyle to help you stay on track to achieve your goals, whether it’s weight loss, weight maintenance, or overall wellness, without missing out on all the enjoyment the holidays have to offer. 

re:vitalize can also help you achieve your goals year-round with our customized programs. We’ll help you make your journey work for you, taking a holistic approach to weight loss based on your unique biometrics and nutritional needs. Our goal is to empower you with the tools, strategies, and habits you need to achieve long-lasting weight loss success.

Schedule an initial consultation today to learn more about our unique, tech-enabled approach. For additional support during the holiday season, get a copy of the book Fear No Food, written by our founders Dan Lemoine and Noel Abood, to help you build sustainable habits.

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