7 Holiday Eating Tips To Prevent Weight Gain
Written by: Spencer Higgs - Nov. 19, 2020
Late autumn through mid-winter. A period known culturally as “the holidays,” a time when families from many faiths join together in thanks, ceremony, reunion, and, of course, food. Lots and lots of food. So many sweet and savory dishes, in fact, that many people slip on their diets, or let them go completely. Yes, the holidays can be tempting, but they can also be healthy. Here are seven healthy holiday tips to enjoy the season’s bounty without setting you back on your health goals.
1. Think Fast! (East Slow!)
Did you know it takes our brains roughly 20 minutes to recognize satiation? The faster you eat, the more time you sit with an empty plate before your brain says, “Okay, body, that’s enough. No más.” It’s in that interim that people usually go back for seconds (or thirds). So, a good strategy for eating healthy during the holidays is to try slowing down your consumption, taking time to listen and engage with family at the table, and chewing every bite thoroughly before forking another. It also helps to put your utensils down between bites. After 20 minutes, if you’re still starving, go back for a LITTLE more.
2. Load Up On Greens
No lie: next to turkey, meatloaf, casseroles, and about five different types of mashed potatoes, salad and broccoli just seem unappetizing. Maybe that’s why “eating your vegetables” is one of the most overlooked healthy holiday tips of all time. But the truth is, if you’re adamant about eating healthy during the holidays to avoid weight gain, turning to greens is a must. Here’s why:
- Vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fiber, which makes us feel fuller and is directly associated with fat loss and weight management. 
- Combined with physical activity, a diet rich in vegetables reduces metabolic syndrome. 
- Vegetables have, by and large, much fewer calories than meats and sugary foods. So, even though you feel just as full after eating lots of veggies, your caloric intake is far less.
3. Small Plates, Big Help
Portion control! Let me say it again—portion controllll! If you’re committed to eating healthy during the holidays, managing the size of your portions is one of the most important healthy holiday eating practices.
One of my favorite healthy holiday tips to avoid overeating is using a small plate. This is a way of self-forcing portion control, and a great way to help your body hit the 20 minute rule, explained in point #1 of my healthy holiday tips.
You can also ask a friend or family member to be your “accountability buddy”, a presence that holds you to your one-helping goal and ensures you’re eating healthy during the holidays.
4. Don’t Skip Meals
This sounds counter-intuitive, but skipping a meal or two immediately before a big holiday dinner can backfire. Big time. Because you’ve deprived your body of expected calories for such a short period of time, hunger signals fire and tells your brain to eat-eat-eat-eat-eat. Foods that are high in fats, carbs, and salts may taste extra appetizing, and typically they’re the high calorie meals.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
It’s no one’s favorite tip for healthy holiday eating, but the fact is that alcoholic beverages sneak in hundreds to thousands of calories a night without you really knowing. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. The biggest problem here is that calories from alcohol are considered “empty calories”—Meaning, they don’t provide any nutritional value (carbs, fat, or protein). This typically means the more alcohol you drink, the closer it pushes you to reach your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) without ingesting actual nutrients. (Your TDEE is the number of calories your body needs in order to maintain your current weight.)
A glass of wine, light beer, seltzer, or simply made cocktail sets you back about 100 calories per drink. And, usually, as the amount of alcohol, sugar, or ingredients increases, so too does the calorie count. For example, many IPA beers pack 200 or so calories in each 12-oz can. One eggnog is even more. And cocktails like margaritas, white Russians, and Long Island ice teas can push you over the 1000-calorie mark with just two or three cocktails! (Granted, after two Long Islands you probably won’t care.)
But if letting loose after a super-stressful year is part of the plan, you can complement your healthy holiday eating with a health(ish) glass of red wine. A single glass of red wine bears a modest 125 calories per glass, powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, and is shown to benefit cholesterol and heart health. [3, 4]
6. Move Your Body
The more you move, the more energy (AKA calories) your body requires. Not all healthy holiday tips are diet-focused! One of the best holiday health hacks is to fit movement into your day wherever and whenever possible. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Use the upstairs shower/bathroom/guest room.
- Make multiple trips to bring items inside (from the car, garage, etc.).
- Walk to nearby family or neighbors whom you’re dropping gifts to.
- Commit to an hour of power walking or snowshoeing before each meal (250-450 cals/hour!).
- Do crunches (or squats, pushups, etc.) during downtime.
- Get childish: Play in the snow or yard with your younger, energetic nieces, nephews, children, or grandchildren.
However you do it, the point is to move often and move your whole body and incorporate activity into healthy holiday eating.
7. Don’t Forget To Detox
There’s nothing like a good meal. But a lot of the time good meals aren’t so good for you. Even if you’re sticking to your recommended daily calorie intake, the meals synonymous with the holiday season are often loaded in inflammation- and oxidation-causing ingredients that can lead to bloating and toxin buildup.
Drinking a detoxifying tea, such as Super Youth Detox works wonders in controlling both the visceral and visible signs of stress buildup in your body. Its unique blend of superfoods, like yerba mate, nettle leaf, ginseng, and guarana help to flush out toxins and soothe bloating. It’s also loaded with natural metabolism-boosters to help support weight loss.
Drinking Detox is a great companion to eating healthy during the holidays, and can help ensure you stick to your holiday health goals.
Eating healthy during the holidays is difficult, but not impossible. Following these healthy holiday tips will help you make better choices, burn more calories, and break through the new year without letting your hard work, diet, or goals go by the wayside. The best part is, you can absolutely enjoy all your favorite holiday eats and drinks, but you’ll be able to do so with balance and self-control.