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Avoiding holiday weight gain

Avoiding holiday weight gain

If we’re not careful, the “most wonderful time of the year” can be not so wonderful on our waistline. We should enjoy family traditions, gatherings and festivities over the holidays, but that doesn’t mean sensible eating should go up the chimney. To prevent weight gain during the holidays, keep these tips in mind.

Skipping breakfast and lunch in preparation for a huge meal backfires for two reasons. First, it sends your system into starvation prevention mode, which triggers your body to store more calories and fat when you do eat the next time. Second, fasting all day will cause you to over compensate and overeat at the big meal. Your best bet is to eat a good breakfast and lunch to keep your metabolism on even keel.

Moderation and portion control are the keys to surviving holiday celebrations without gaining extra pounds. Go ahead and eat pumpkin pie if that’s your favorite, but stick to a 2” by 2” piece and not the giant piece your grandmother might serve you. Allow yourself a treat. But just one.

Another strategy I always recommend is starting your meal with non-starchy vegetables like salad, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes because they are higher in fiber, nutrients, and vitamins and lower in calories than corn, peas and potatoes. Then go back and get turkey, starchy foods and a roll. Take approximately ½ cup, eat slowly and savor your food.


  • Get active – While your food is digesting, get moving with a walk around the neighborhood or another family activity.
  • Go for the pumpkin – In comparison to other rich holiday favorites like pecan pie, pumpkin pie has less sugar and is lower in calories.
  • Bounce back – If you overeat, don’t give yourself a license to keep on eating because you’ve “already blown it.” Don’t feel guilty, just get back on track.

Recommended calorie consumption varies with age, weight, gender and height. But as a general rule, shoot for 500 calories in a meal. Women should maintain 1,600 to 1,800 calories in a day and men 2,000 to 2,200. For a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, 600 calories is a reasonable goal.

About Emily Smith
Emily Smith, RD, LD, CDE, CPT, is a Clinical Dietitian at Methodist Health Prevention and Wellness Services located at 110 Second Street in downtown Henderson. She provides one-on-one counseling, nutrition therapy for disease management, meal planning, weight loss counseling, pediatric healthy lifestyle and weight management. Call 270-826-4646 to schedule your appointment with Emily today.