How To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain – 31 Weight Loss Experts Reveal Their Top 3 Tips

With the colder weather, Holiday Season AND research working against us; gaining weight at this time of year seems inevitable. It can be a REAL struggle to avoid gaining weight and some of us even decide to throw all our hard work away and over-indulge during the Holiday Season.

Well, we DON'T want you to do that and we DON'T want you to feel alone.

So to HELP YOU get through the Holiday Season without putting on even a lb; we asked Dieticians, Experienced Weight Loss Bloggers & Healthy Living Bloggers:

“What are your top 3 tips for avoiding Christmas/Holiday Season weight gain?”

31 Amazing People Got Involved. THANK YOU!!

prevent holiday weight gain

​We were overwhelmed with the response we got and the willingness of these great people to give their opinions and tips. As a result of this generosity - this post is REALLY long BUT it is worth reading thoroughly as there is a ton of great advice here, waiting for you to implement and kick the Holiday Season in the butt!

To help give a quick overview of some of the tips here we have created a top 10. An overview of the most common themes throughout. It doesn't do the advice justice though (and was pretty difficult to sort overall), so we recommend bookmarking the page and giving this page a thorough read when you have time.​

Alternatively you can click on the Expert name and go straight to their answer:

We created this infographic to help you digest the top tips quickly and easily.

prevent holiday weight gain

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Top 10 Tips For Preventing Holiday Weight Gain​

avoid weight gain

1. Exercise (21 Votes)

Exercise, and keeping it up during the Holidays, was mentioned by the majority of Experts in their responses. The take home points for exercise include: 

  • ​Make extra time for exercise. Find the time to be active.
  • Every bit of movement counts - So if you can't do a full workout try to do exercise here and there' even if that means squatting and lunging while you are cooking or running on the spot. Even 10 minutes of walking or doing some HIIT will help.
  • It’s not about perfection this time of year – its about getting it done regardless of how short the workout is.
  • Make sure you schedule and plan your workouts (just like you have the rest of the year). Fit them in. If you don’t plan you are setting yourself up to fail.
  • Set a daily goal for physical activity. The 10,000 steps a day challenge is an example of this.
  • Get a friend to workout with you to make it easier to get your workouts in at this time of year. You can hold each other accountable as you get through the gluttonous season.
  • Involve your family – have a game of football in the garden or go for a walk. This time of year, you will be spending a good deal of time with them. Instead of sitting in watching TV, why not spend time while getting some exercise.
  • Exercise is the glue that holds all other healthy behaviors together.
  • Exercise also has the added bonus of helping relieve stress, which will all know is higher around the Holiday season.
  • If you have eaten a lot of carbs in the evening, get a strength workout in the next morning. A quick 20 minute session is enough but it will help burn off the carbs. The carbs will give you plenty of energy to push hard in this session and build muscle. Cardio is not the answer.
  • Lift heavy and do multi-joint moves (moves that include more than one joint e.g. squatting). This will help you recruit more muscle groups – the more you recruit the more you burn.
  • Try sprint intervals or HIIT. These are very effective at burning fat and perfect to squeeze in if you schedule is extra busy this time of year.
prevent weight gain

2. Plan Your Meals For Home, Before A Party & On The Day (12)

​This one is a mesh of advice but a common theme: planning. Below are some of the tips mentioned:

  • Stock your cupboards and fridge with healthy snacks, so you only indulge at parties and not when you are at home.
  • Plan out healthy meals, at least on the days you have the ability to do so.
  • If you have a party coming up try to do "damage limitation". Opt for a lighter breakfast and lunch than you normally would if you know you're going to an evening party and will be eating there or you're having your Christmas/Thanks Giving dinner later. Alternatively you could also opt to have a larger lunch to prevent you nibbling before the main meal.
  • Eat a healthy snack before you head out to an event/party so you don't stuff your face while there.
  • Start with a good breakfast. People who don't eat breakfast on Christmas Day tend to overindulge later. Get yourself off to a good start to prevent this.
  • Add cinnamon to your breakfast. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar and as a result, you store less fat. It tastes sweet and is a perfect addition to your breakfast!
avoid weight gain at a party

3. Filling Up Your Party Plate (10)

  • When at a party, fill your party plate up with healthy foods first and a few indulgences last. Don’t refill the plate!
  • Bring your own healthy snacks/foods to the party.
  • Black pepper burns as many calories as a 20-minute walk! Add it into your contribution and burn calories while you eat
  • While at a party fill up on fruits and vegetables first, then you will have less room for not so healthy foods.
  • Stay away from bowls of candy, chips etc so you don’t eat mindlessly. Go socialize instead.
  • Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Fill up your first plate with veggies only, then stick to 3 bite portions of the fun foods you want to try.
  • Focus on eating MORE not less. Instead of thinking about all the foods that may derail your weight loss goals, instead focus on all the foods that will help them. Then eat more of them.
  • Pick fiber-rich foods to help you feel satisfied for longer.
  • You could try fasting beforehand and then having a big protein shake 30-60 minutes before your holiday meal/party. I am sure you won't feel like eating much after that!
holiday weight gain

4. Treat Yourself (8 votes)

It’s really important to treat yourself this time of year and many people agreed. The main points included:

  • ​Don't deprive yourself of a few holiday favorites you adore. You have probably been brought up on them and are accustomed to them so it would be a shame to deprive yourself once a year.
  • Grab a few of your favorite things that you absolutely will enjoy the hell out of. Don’t just eat everything in sight and not really think about what you are doing.
  • Rate treats and desserts on a scale of 1 to 10. If there are no 10s then skip them. If there are 10s enjoy a small amount of each.
  • Eat ONLY what you LOVE. Don't just eat it because its there - really figure out what you feel is a REAL treat instead of mindless eating.
  • If you want something, just eat it! Don't overthink it. Better to have one slice now than to eat the whole thing later because you denied yourself. A little of something in the moment is better than the craving intensifying and causing you to overeat later.
  • Try to stick to appropriate portions and don't overdo it.
  • Remember quality over quantity.
  • Keep your splurge on the Day instead of the season.
portion control

5. Portion Control (8)

  • ​We tend to feel we need to stuff ourselves "more than the holiday turkey" but we don't.
  • Don't overload your plate. Start with a smaller plate first and if you eat it all, wait a few minutes before going for seconds. Give your brain time to register that you have had enough, before you overdo it and its too late.
  • Monitor your portion sizes by being aware of what you put on your plate. Go for smaller portions so you can eat a little bit of everything.
  • Take in larger portions of any leafy greens or non-starchy vegetables to bulk up on fiber.
  • Don't pile the food in - be present and in the moment when you eat so you don't get carried away.
  • Look at the the Holiday meal as a "tasting" as opposed to a buffet.
8020 rule weight gain

6. The 80/20 Rule (7 Votes)

Many of the answers were very much in line with the 80/20 concept. As long as you are good most of the time, those few times you go off kilter won’t add up to anything. It is all about the long term.

  • If you eat healthily 80% of the time then you can afford to indulge for the other 20%. If you have a party coming up on a Saturday then you may want to eat slightly healthier Monday to Friday OR you may want to carry on with a small bit of indulgence every day, just making sure to pick your indulgences on the day of the party – and not seeing the whole day as a bit of a ‘free for all’!
  • Consistency - You have to be consistent with your fitness regime no matter what time of year.  If you fall off the wagon on Thanks Giving or Christmas Day then you will be fine. If, however, you just fall off from Thanks Giving to the New Year, then you will put on weight.  There is no helping that! Remain consistent and you will win in the long run and get through the Season.
  • It's not so much about what you eat on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but all the other days of the year that aren't holidays. Maintain that sense of perspective. Focus on consistency over the long haul.
avoid weight gain water

7. Stay Hydrated (7 Votes)

  • Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day. We often mistake dehydration for hunger, so keeping hydrated may help you eat less because you are fulfilling the right need.
  • If you are constantly sipping on water at a party, you may find less desire to eat for 2 reasons: you aren't really hungry but thirsty and because you have something to do with your hands.
  • It is especially important to keep an eye on hydration at this time of year. As the weather gets colder, we tend to drink less naturally.
  • Drink 2 large glasses of water when you get up at the morning.
  • Always carry a water bottle with you (go for glass or stainless steel bottles over plastic).
prevent weight gain with mindful eating

8. Mindfulness (Votes 6)

  1.  Watch out for emotional eating. This time of year can be busy and stressful. Try to listen to hunger cues and eat only when hungry and avoid doing so when stressed out.
  2. Stay mindful and try not to get caught up in the emotions and celebrations of the holiday. Stay present in the moment so you can be aware of what you are eating.
  3. Stop to savor holiday treats instead of eating mindlessly and not really enjoying the treats you are consuming. You will enjoy what you do eat this way and will likely eat less as a result.
  4. If you get stressed out over what you are going to eat, stop and take a deep breath. The stress can sometimes be worse for health than the actual food itself. Indulging at one party isn't going to wreck your weight loss goals.
  5. Remember to take care of yourself. Try to look at things from a more holistic point of view. Stress management, sleep and exercise are all just as important as what you eat.  If you don't get enough sleep, for example, you may be more likely to comfort eat and take in more calories to try and wake yourself up.
fill up before you go

9. Fill Up Before You Go (5 Votes)

  • Eat before you go by having lots of healthy food like fruits and vegetables.
  • Alternatively opt for something more filling like a protein shake.
think positive

10. Positive Thinking (4)

  • Create a positive, uplifting, and motivating mantra to say at least two times per day. When you become your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy, you'll want to do healthier things for yourself rather than sabotage your weight loss goals. Therefore, a positive mantra could be something like, "I love making healthy choices and eating more vegetables because I love my body and I deserve it!"
  • Never focus your thoughts on how much weight you are afraid to gain. What you think you become.
  • Enjoy the process of healthy living and taking care of yourself. Don't make yourself miserable and feel like you are missing out on things - focus on what you are gaining.
  • Try to relax with the process. Stress and worry could lead to emotional eating, which is a problem many of us experience.
  • Focus on eating MORE instead of focusing on less.  Instead of focusing on the foods you "can't" have or are missing out on' focus on the foods you can have and that will be helping you in your journey.
  • Do NOT feel guilty if you indulge. Sometimes we can indulge and feel guilty afterwards. This will ultimately lead to more indulging or binge eating. A day of indulging is NOT going to destory your goals.

How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with These 3 Tips

Responses listed in the order they were received:

jennifer drummond

Jennifer Drummond

Health Food Blogger who has her own weight loss story.​


  1. ​Knowing that holiday sweets will be everywhere, try to find a little extra time to do exercising. Even if it is doing squats, lunges or jogging in place while cooking or watching TV.
  2. Stock your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy snacks, so you only indulge at holiday parties, not while at home.
  3. While at parties, fill up on fruits and vegetables first, then you will have a little room for the not so healthy food items.
  4. BONUS TIP: If you are in need of sweets, split with a friend.

Connect with Jennifer:

jennifer drummond

Kristen Seymour

Recipe Creator & Triathlete​

Partner at & FitBottomedEats Editor

Two things: Planning and mindfulness. This time of year is hectic for many of us, so planning out healthy meals (at least on days when you have the ability to do so) and planning out what workouts you're going to do (and when!) will really help you keep your healthy habits on track, which, in turn, helps you keep your weight from fluctuating too much.

But, here's the thing -- you're going to have all kinds of holiday-specific opportunities to do things that don't mesh with your usual schedule and healthy lifestyle. Holiday parties, cookie exchanges, candy EVERYWHERE -- it's a special time of year and you certainly deserve to treat yo'self! Just do so mindfully, so, instead of grabbing one of every type of dessert at a party, pick one (or two) that you know you'll love and enjoy the hell out of every last bite.

Look at it, smell it, appreciate how it feels in your hand. Take small bites and think about the flavors you're experiencing. When you're able to make one small treat feel like this big a deal, you'll find you don't have the same cravings to eat all the goodies that you might've had otherwise!

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jennifer drummond

Jennipher Walters

Personal Trainer, Health Coach & Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist​

CEO/Co-Founder at

Remember that every bit of movement counts. So even if you can't get to the gym for a full workout, even just five or 10 minutes of walking or dancing or some HIIT training helps. It's not about being perfect this time of year -- it's about doing what you can! And sometimes, that means a quick workout before you hit the shower like this one: -- and that's totally okay. You got this!

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jennifer drummond

Nichola Whitehead

Registered Dietitian​

  1. Remember the 80/20 Rule – If you eat healthily 80% of the time then you can afford to indulge for the other 20%. If you have a party coming up on a Saturday then you may want to eat slightly healthier Monday to Friday OR you may want to carry on with a small bit of indulgence every day, just making sure to pick your indulgences on the day of the party – and not seeing the whole day as a bit of a ‘free for all’!
  2. Decide how much you're going to Eat and Drink & Why - If you're going to live by the 80/20 rule then you're going to have to do some planning.  Most people know what will be available at a party/celebration - namely savoury food, sweet food and alcohol. Decide how you want to 'spend' your calories, remembering to feast on food such as veggies whilst picking a little of what you fancy. For example, if you know that there's going to be cheese and crackers served at the end of the meal then why not opt to have just half of your dessert - it will help you to stay within your 'daily allowance' without missing out.
  3. Think 'Damage Limitation' - Most of us eat and drink a little more when we're at a if this is inevitable then why not try to 'tone it down' a little by exhibiting some damage limitation. You could for example have a lighter breakfast and lunch if you know that you're going to be eating more later on OR you may want to have a larger lunch to help to stop you nibbling on things such as canapés if you want to save your eating for later. Keeping hydrated with calorie free fluids such as water will also help you to keep your hunger and thirst levels in check and will keep you feeling full.
  4. Think about your Clothes & Hands - It's a good idea to wear clothes that aren't super tight, so that you don't feel uncomfortable, but equally don't wear something too baggy so that you're tempted to eat and drink your way to a massive food baby! On the hands front, especially if there's a buffet of food available, keep them occupied - whether it be a phone, camera or a drink, make it harder for you to nibble with spare hands 'mindlessly'.
  5. The Day After..Get Back on Track! - When you wake up the next day, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. What's done is done, an it's how you recover that matters - have a light, healthy breakfast such as a bowl of porridge, egg on toast or fruit with yoghurt, stock to your regular meals and keep active and hydrated. One day of overindulge ISN'T the end of the world and you can easily spread out the extra calories eaten over the forth coming week. Just because you over-ate on one day doesn't mean that you'll automatically gain fat.

Connect with Nichola:

jennifer drummond

​Hayden-William Courtland PHD

Scientist & Fitness Trainer​


I can’t really answer that in bullet points as there really is only one answer: consistency

If someone has their exercise and nutrition regimen dialed in properly, then consistency is all you need. Having extra calories or here and there on special days will not a​ffect the long-term result.  If however you let yourself go off the wagon and just throw everything out the window from Thanksgiving to January 1st, then yes you will have problems and there's not much that can be done about that.

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monica run eat repeat

Monica Olivas

Health Coach & Running Coach. Has experienced first hand the trials of losing weight, having lost weight herself.

  1. Stay active - find a time to exercise. It makes you feel good!
  2. Stay hydrated - as the weather cools down we tend to drink less water naturally. Make it a priority to drink enough H2O.
  3. Enjoy you favorite holiday treats without guilt. Savor the things you only eat around this time of year. Skip the foods you can have any time.

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monica run eat repeat

Dani Stevens

365 Fitness Food Motivator​

Here's my 3 things I do over the silly season:

  1. I always eat a healthy snack before I head out to a Xmas event so I'm not stuffing my face with all the party foods.
  2. Regardless how bust my days get, I ALWAYS find time to do my 10,000 steps. Keeping fit over Christmas will be your best friend.
  3. Hydrate. If you keep your tummy full your unlikely to snack on all the unnecessary mince pies and sugary foods leading up to Christmas, not to mention the alcohol!!!

Connect with Dani:

tatiana lovingfit


Fitness & Lifestyle Blogger​

  1. Water is the essence to life and the best thing for flushing out toxins.  Drink a lot more water than you normally do.  In the morning drink at least 2 large glasses of water right after getting out of bed.  Prior to having a meal drink a large glass of water.  Two hours prior to bed time drink 2 large glasses of water.  Most people are overeating because they are not drinking enough water, if you drink more water you will naturally want to eat less.
  2. If you've eaten a lot of carbs in the evening having dinner with family, make sure that in the morning you do a strength training workout on an empty stomach. A lot of people make a mistake and do cardio to burn off the carbs, but when your glycogen levels are overloaded cardio is useless, you will not be burning fat nor will you be building muscle. But if you do strength training workout you will be building muscle and you will have plenty of energy to push really hard. Even if it's a quick 20 minutes it's better than nothing, but make sure those 20 minutes are very intense.
  3. Never focus your thoughts on how much weight you are afraid to gain during holidays. Because thoughts are very powerful and they manifest based on where your focus is. If you're constantly thinking and afraid to gain a lot of weight, then that's exactly what will happen no matter what you physically try to do, that is the law of attraction (or simple physics), what you think you become. Enjoy the process of taking care of your self, fall in love with taking care of your self and focus on living a healthy lifestyle over all. There is no need to be extremely strict with your self during the holidays, just do the best with simple things like consistency with working out and balancing healthy meals with no so healthy ones, Balance is key to everything in life.

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tim shrinkinguy

Tim Powell

Weight Loss & Fitness Blogger​ (Personal experience of losing weight)

I actually made a good blog post last week that gives "8 tips for a healthier Thanksgiving". Many of these would apply not just to Thanksgiving, but holiday eating in general. Here are three tips from that post that I think would be useful:

  1. Don't deprive yourself. I know that this sounds unhealthy, but you've probably grown up accustomed to certain foods and it would be a shame to deprive yourself of those things on this once-a-year holiday.  Rather, read the rest of the tips below to enjoy the foods you love without going overboard.
  2. Make a plan for yourself. Just because there is a lot of food doesn't mean that you have to eat it all. For me, I like the one-plate strategy. Take one large plate and start filling it up. Start with the healthiest foods that you enjoy (like turkey, salad, green beans, etc), and end with the more indulgent choices (like butter and sugar-laced yarns,mashed potatoes, etc).  If you end up with less healthy foods, there will be less room for them. Don't overload your plate. Eat everyting slowly. Savor every bite. If you take more time eating, you'll feel full faster and won't need to go back for seconds or thirds. Limit yourself to that single plate and enjoy it.
  3. Make healthy substitutions. As you prepare food, you can make a few healthy substitutions without anyone even noticing. Use butter instead of margerine. You can usually cut down on the amount of butter called for - like if the mashed potatoes require a stick, add just a half a stick. Cut down the sugar called for in recipes by 1/3. You won't even notice. Instead of white flour, mix half white and half wheat flour in recipes. Use less cheese than called for, and try to mix in Mozzarella or Parmesan instead of using all cheddar. Use Wheat Thins or Triscuit crackers instead of Cheese-its or other white-flour based crackers. Make a tasty vinaigrette dressing instead of Ranch for a salad. Look on the Internet for healthier recipes for the foods you love - there are thousands of them. All of this will result in a dinner that tastes just as good or better, but with far fewer calories or processed food contents.

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Dixya Bhattarai

Registered Dietitian

If I had to give 3 tips for avoiding Christmas/Holiday Season weight gain are:

  1. D​o not arrive hungry to a party. Make sure to eat nutritious snack and keep yourself hydrated prior to a party.
  2. Remember to stay physically active even if it means 10-15 minutes a day.
  3. Limit your alcohol intake. Calories from alcohol adds up very quickly and when you drink a lot you won't have as much control over what you eat.

Connect with Dixya:

alissa rumsey

Alissa Rumsey MS, RD

Registered Dietitian & Founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness.

  1. Eat what you love and skip what you don't. Indulge in the foods that you really enjoy, don't just eat food because it is there, or because it is "holiday food".
  2. At a party with a buffet, fill up your plate with fruits and vegetables first. Then fill up a small plate with more indulgent foods, and step away from the buffet to socialize. Stay away from bowls of candy, chips or pretzels so that you don't mindlessly eat.​
  3. Keep up your exercise regimen. Each week, plan out your workout routines and be really specific. Instead of saying "I'll workout this week", say "I'm going to work out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and I'm going to do 30 minutes of intervals and weight training". Get a friend to workout with you so that you have an exercise buddy and someone to hold you accountable.

Connect with Alissa:

stephanie mansour

Stephanie Mansour

Weight Loss & Lifestyle Coach for Women

  1. Focus on eating MORE, not less. Let me explain: instead of thinking about all of the foods, desserts, and cocktails that may derail your weight loss goals, focus on the foods that will help them. Then, eat more of them. Focus on eating more green veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. The fuller you are on healthy foods, the less you'll crave the unhealthy ones.
  2. Schedule in your workouts in your calendar. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Make a plan and pencil it into your calendar so that you see your appointment with yourself daily.
  3. Create a positive, uplifting, and motivating mantra to say at least two times per day. When you become your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy, you'll want to do healthier things for yourself rather than sabotage your weight loss goals. Therefore, a positive mantra could be something like, "I love making healthy choices and eating more vegetables because I love my body and I deserve it!"

Connect with Stephanie:

jamila renele pore

Jamila René Lepore, MS, RD/N

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

  1. Enjoy your favorites, but stick to appropriate portions.
  2. Move more! Extra calories are inevitable this time of year. Make up for it by adding in extra exercise.
  3. Enjoy the day (not the season). Splurge on the actual holiday, not the entire month of November and December.

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lauren minchen

Lauren Minchen

Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist​​

  1. Indulge ONLY on the day of the holiday, and stay on track on all the in-between days. Holiday weight gain does not come from indulgences on the actual holiday, but rather constant indulging for weeks on end throughout the season.
  2. Exercise! I know the holiday can be a crazy time, but staying consistent with exercise can reduce weight gain, increase energy, and help manage appetite and cravings.
  3. At holiday parties, fill up your first plate with veggies only. Then, stick to 3-bite portions of the fun foods you want to try. Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs when there's good food in front of us. Filling up on veggies first helps you stabilize your blood sugar and reduce caloric intake from heavier foods.

Connect with Lauren:

brandon richey

Brandon Richey, B.S.,CSCS

Strength & Conditioning Coach/Fitness Trainer​

  1. Lift Heavy With Major Multi-Joint Lifts: As a strength and conditioning coach I'm a big believer in lifting heavy with the major multi-joint lifts. Multi-joint lifts (or movements) are movements that include more than one joint and in turn recruit more major muscle groups to perform the task at hand. The more muscle groups we recruit the more calories we burn. So if you want to keep the holiday weight gain to a minimum get under a heavy squat bar.
  2. Engage In Sprint Work: If you're fit enough then change up your cardiovascular conditioning by engaging in more high intensity anaerobic sprint work. Sprints (if done properly) rev up the metabolism and wake up your nervous system. You can quickly elevate your heart rate and sprint intervals can be programmed for a huge calorie burn. In addition to this sprints can be intensified by either performing them at a greater distance, or by loading the body with something such as a weighted vest, a weighted sled, or by even using a bungee.
  3. Don't Stuff Yourself - I know this third tip may seem like the obvious, but for some reason people frequently feel they have to stuff themselves more than the holiday turkey. I've always followed the rule that I "eat to live" instead of "living to eat." This is a different perspective that has always served me pun intended.

Connect with Brandon:

the organic dietician

​Sara Korzeniewski

​Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist

  1. Bring your own healthy dish to every party or gathering that you attend. You can bring a flavorful vegetable dish or maybe a low sugar fruit crisp for everyone to share.
  2. Don't stress. If you get anxiety or stressed out over what you are going to eat or if they will have healthy choices then take a deep breath. Stress can sometimes be worse for health then the actual food itself. If you indulge at one party just know that it will be ok and move on.
  3. Stay active! Have a family football game outside instead of sitting inside watching it on television. Go for a family walk before or after the meal to get moving.

Connect with Sara:

the organic dietician



  1. Start with a good breakfast. I know many people who don't eat breakfast on Christmas Day and then when it comes to lunch (a late lunch usually too) you're starving so you overindulge. have a substantial breakfast and that will get you off to a good start.
  2. Don't overload your plate. Start with a smaller plate first and if you eat it all, wait a few minutes before going for seconds. Sometimes it takes a while before your brain registers that you've had enough and if you eat a huge plate straight up then that message might come too late!
  3. Don't have NO foods. If you want something, eat it. if you think a slice of pavlova would top off the meal nicely, then have it. Better one slice now than half the pavlova later because you denied yourself a treat 😉 Giving in to a craving when it happens often results in you eating less of the food item, Ie a chocolate craving may be settled with a square or two of chocolate. A craving denied might intensify and you eat the whole block later... which option is better?

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pat flynn chronicles of strength

​Pat Flynn

Author, Fitness Minimalist & Business Coach​​

  1. It's not so much about what you eat on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but all the other days of the year that aren't holidays. Maintain that sense of perspective. Focus on consistency over the long haul.
  2. Get a big workout in before pigging out. Lift heavy, and make yourself sweat.
  3. Also, try fasting beforehand and then have a big protein shake 30-60 minutes before the extravagant holiday meal. Calories count, so cutting them down earlier in the day, and then using protein to fill up a little beforehand, will control hunger and make sure you don't go too far overboard.

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ruth frechman

Ruth Frechman, MA, RDN, CPT 

Speaker. Nutrition Consultant & Author​

  1. Watch emotional eating. The holidays can get busy and be stressful. Listen to hunger cues. Only eat when hungry. Don’t eat if not hungry.
  2. Set a goal for daily physical activity. One mile of walking only burns 100 calories. A holiday dessert and a couple of alcoholic beverages can be 600-800 calories.
  3. Weight daily. If you see the scale going up, start cutting back immediately. It's easy to gain weight and not so easy to lose weight. Preventing weight gain is the key.

Connect with Ruth:

​Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD

Sports Dietitian​

Here's my top tip! Enjoy the holiday food.  Sure, you may only eat turky stuffing and pumpkin pie once or twice a year around the holidays but try to really savor your food instead of stocking up like you need to eat your fill.  This holiday focus on really quality over quantity so that you can truly enjoy your food.  When you savor your food, you'll eat less and have more enjoyment.

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diane carbonell

Diane Carbonell

Weight Loss Expert

I've maintained my 158 pound weight loss through 18 holiday seasons thus far and still am mindful of the weight gain possibilities. Three tips for avoiding holiday weight gain that I practice myself are:

  1. Rate treats and desserts on a scale of 1 to 10. When I look at a table laden with holiday foods, I rate the "special" foods in my mind. If no foods are a "10," I skip them. If there is a dessert or food I really love, I have a small amount without any guilt and enjoy it completely.
  2. Stay mindful. It's so easy to get caught up in the emotions and experiences of holiday gatherings and forget about your diet. Stay present in the moment and be aware of how much food you are consuming.
  3. Don't bake just for the fun of it. If you love to bake like I do, be careful about baking holiday treats just for fun. You might just eat way more than you want to. When I bake, it's with a purpose such as a specific event or for a special gift.

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sharon palmer

Sharon Palmer, RDN

The Plant-Powered Dietitian, author of Plant-Powered for Life

  1. Reserve calories. If you have a dinner invitation in the
    evening, save your extra calories for later by eating a lighter lunch. For example, instead of a thick deli sandwich, choose a salad with chickpeas and veggies.
  2. Exercise, exercise, exercise. This is not the time of year to put off exercise.  Burn off some of those extra holiday calories by cramming in even more physical activity, which offers an added bonus of holiday stress reduction.
  3. Don't skip breakfast.  Research shows that people who skip breakfast make up for those calories - and then some - later on.  Fill up on a nutritious breakfast that includes a serving of whole grain, lean protein and fruit to quell hunger pains later on.

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stephanie mckercher

Stephanie McKercher MS, RDN

Registered Dietician & Plant-Based Food Blogger

  1. Eat mindfully and be sure to stop to savor holiday treats. You'll enjoy your food so much more and also help prevent cravings later on.
  2. Remember to fill up on fiber-rich foods that will help you feel satisfied longer. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and beans are all great options.
  3. Remember that body size can be related to a whole lot more than just the food we eat. Sleep, exercise, and stress management are all important factors to keep in mind for holistic wellness.

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dr nina cherie franklin

Dr Nina Cherie Franklin

Health & Wellness Expert, Author & Blogger

  1. Watch Your Portion Sizes: In order to control the amount of calories going IN during the holiday season, it’s important to monitor your portion sizes (what’s on your plate). If you’re in the presence of a whole lot of food, go for smaller portions (half of a cup) so you can eat a little bit of everything. A good rule of thumb is to take in larger portions of any leafy greens or other non-starchy vegetables available in order to bulk up on fiber. This helps increase the feeling of fullness, thereby reducing the risk of overeating.
  2. Amp Up Your Works: To increase the number of calories going OUT of your body during the holidays it’s important to implement workouts on most days of the week. If you view the holiday season as a time to rest, choose light to moderate cardio exercises that you enjoy like walking the shopping malls or dancing at a nightclub. You should also add some resistance exercise to the mix using free weights, tubing or even your own body weight. This type of exercise can elevate your metabolic rate (the rate at your body naturally burns calories) for up to 12 hours.
  3. Consume Alcohol in Moderation: You can minimize the amount of calories that go IN by consuming alcohol in moderation. There are about 70 calories in an ounce of hard liquor. By mixing 3 ounces of hard liquor with 4 ounces of cranberry, orange or other juice, you’re looking at about 270 calories in just one small mixed drink. One or more drinks can put a real hurting on your daily calorie budget. When you do consume alcohol during the holiday season, choose light beers, low-proof wines or low-calorie mixed drinks like rum or vodka with flavored sparkling water instead of soda or juice.

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lee sutherland

Lee Sutherland

Health & Fitness Expert

  • ​Prepare

Firstly make sure you have a light yet protein rich meal for breakfast ahead of that big feast which rivals Christmas dinner. Think a green smoothie packed with spinach, frozen berries, chia seeds and a scoop of protein powder, or a ham omelet full of veggies, a little avo- but hold the bread. Gluten is a common culprit known to cause inflammation and gut byosis.

  • Move

​Have 20 minutes up your sleeve before you have to get ready? Use this time to work up a sweat! Try a short yet intense metabolic training workout – a combination of resistance (anaerobic) and cardiovascular (aerobic) training in the one session to give you that awesome after burn effects. Think increased metabolism for the rest of the day, reduced appetite, decreasing body fat while building muscle… just to name a few. The key to reaping the benefits on this time saver workout is having no breaks in between each exercise, you want move from one exercise to the next as fast as you can, with only a 30-60 second water break between each round.

  • Pr​evention is better than cure

Be mindful of what you are actually eating rather than piling everything the eye can see onto your plate. I know it is easy to get carried away but remember, the food ‘aint going anywhere so don’t panic!

Avoid starchy carbs such as breads and pastas (instant bloat material) and instead try a variety of salads, roast veggies such as sweet potato, proteins such as seafood, ham or roasts. Also don’t forget to add some good fats to the mix such as nuts, seeds, olive oil or avocado. Another tip is eating light to heavy which can aid in easier digestion (soups, salads, and meat etc).

If you are prone to bloating and tummy issues try take an a enzyme based digestion tablet around the big meal or try my favorite, Glutamine, before your meal. Glutamine is the most abundant non-essential amino acid in the body. This means it can be produced by the body and is involved in a variety of metabolic processes such as assisting with energy metabolism, protein synthesis and neurotransmitter function. It is also one of the most important nutrients for your intestines and has the ability to ‘repair a leaky gut’ by maintaining the structural integrity of the bowels.

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lee sutherland

Monica Pelle, RD, CPT

Registered Dietitian & Personal Trainer

  1. There are many "Maintain Don't Gain" holiday challenges put on by companies and individuals. That's an excellent goal, to just keep weight stable during this challenging time of year. Record keeping will always help people improve behaviors. So at the very least, track a weight daily or weekly based on what's most helpful to you individually. Track fruits, veggies and exercise. All these behaviors are magnets for other healthy behaviors. You can use an App or old school pen and paper. Here's a Daily Tracker I put together.
  2. Hydration is key! Never leaving home without some healthy fluids. Ditch the plastic water bottles while you're at it and go for glass, stainless steel or ceramic beverage containers. This will decrease toxic load on your system, because all types of plastics eventually migrate into food and beverage. My favorite fluids; water with 1-2 drops doTERRA citrus essential oils (grapefruit, lemon, wild orange, lime), a variety of teas and kombucha with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
  3. Lastly, keep moving! Many people stop their fitness routines with all the holiday business. But exercise is kind of the glue that can hold all health behaviors together. Go for consistency, not for perfection. Even small bouts of exercise make a difference.

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  1. This time of year can be really stressful and family get togethers can sometimes mean emotions run high. Try to fit in something calming before heading out to any festivities. Yoga, meditation, a short walk, taking half an hour to sit quietly and read…. This way you will be in a better head space to manage the situation and make good food choices.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up for choosing something that isn’t perfectly healthy. I like to say it is better to eat the wrong food with the right attitude, than eat the right food with the wrong attitude.
  3. Serve yourself normal portion sizes: Christmas is often used as an excuse to eat ourselves silly. But why? Sure, there are often ridiculous amounts of foods, many of which you wouldn’t prepare at any other time of year, but that’s no reason to have three or four helpings. Tackle it like you would any other meal. Load your plate with salad and veggies, some delicious Christmas meats and some good fats like nuts or cheese.

NOTE: Sarah was unfortunately rather busy with finalizing her latest book, so we were directed to some of her handy articles on this very subject. You can view them here and here.

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skinny confidential

Lauryn Evarts

Influencer & Creative Director Behind The Skinny Confidential

  1. Spoil your appetite - avoid showing up to a holiday party ravenous. Eat some healthy snacks or a small meal beforehand to avoid eating everything in sight. I love eating a small salad loaded with veggies and hummus or a little avocado toast.
  2. Break a sweat daily - No excuses! With so many fun events & parties in the evening I find it easier and more realistic to get your workout done in the morning. TSC Bombshell Body Guide workouts are perfect for the holiday season since they can be completed in 27 minutes.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - you'll probably be consuming more alcohol than normal during the holiday season. Make sure you're drinking at least half your body weight in water & additional water for each drink consumed. Staying hydrated will help ease your hangover so you don't get off track the next day. It will also fill you up so you eat less and keep your skin glowing and fresh. Sparkling water will also make you feel full so you reduce your chances of over eating.

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bridget swinney

Bridget Swinney MS, RD

Author, Women's Nutrition Expert & Blogger

  1. Start each meal with a raw fruit or veggie. This will fill you up with healthy nutrition and fiber and keep you from overindulging on the holiday goodies. Keep a salad of grated carrots or beets with vinaigrette, or carrot, celery and bell pepper strips in the fridge and ready-to-eat. Keep a bowl of fruit handy on the kitchen table as a reminder. I often grab an apple on the way to a big dinner or party. Because I’m not as hungry, I can be more selective about what I choose to eat. Need some inspiration? Check out my post 13 ways to eat more veggies.
  2. Be prepared. During the holidays, the best-laid plans often fall apart, so always have a “Plan B” for eating. Keep healthy snacks like nuts or protein bars in the car to prevent unhealthy snack attacks, and have the ingredients for a quick meal on hand when holiday traffic or shopping cuts into food prep time. Cooking extra portions and freezing, as well as using a crock-pot can keep you on track with healthy meals when time is short.
  3. Take a daily walk. Even if your gym schedule slips a bit during the holidays, most can squeeze in a 10-15 minute walk. At the mall or grocery store, take a quick lap before you do serious shopping. If you like to decompress while watching your favorite show, march in place to get some fitness time in. Something as simple as a 15-minute walk can help you de-stress and burn at least a few calories!

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heidi blysma

Heidi Bylsma

Corporate Communications & Writer

  1. Figure out why you are going to a social occasion like a party or family gathering. Write down you purposes in attending and plan accordingly. Most of us don't go to parties intending to overeat. So ask yourself if it is because you want to connect with family, friends and co-workers. This way, it is easier to eat less, as food isn't necessary to connect with others.
  2. When planning to attend a social event that includes food, plan to be at a zero (stomach totally empty) by eating a smaller meal earlier in the day. It may be unreasonable for you not to eat at some events–like sit-down holiday dinners and the like. If your event is at 7pm, for instance, and you get hungry at 5:30 pm–you are definitely at a 0 at 5:30pm–then have just a few crackers or a cup of milk or something that will just remove the hunger. This way you will be hungry and ready to enjoy moderate selections at the event you attend.
  3. Sometimes people give gifts of food. It is true that some people love on others by giving food any time of the year–all the more during the holidays! If you know that you can withstand temptation to overeat it, outside your boundaries of hungry/not hungry eating, feel free to have it in your home, of course! But if you know you can't politely say “No, thank you,” enjoy a small portion with the gift giver (loving others well) and reserve the rest to re-gift or to share with others in another way.

These tips are from Heidi's article "7 Survival Tips For The Holidays". You will find more helpful advice in her article. Heidi also produced this helpful video with tips to get through the holiday season and parties:

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nagina abdullah

Nagina Abdullah

Weight Loss Coach for Busy Women

​When I was growing up as a first-generation Indian-American, my mom didn't know how to make any of the "traditional" holiday food - we usually ate foods like lengtils, curries, rice and rotis.

So, we would order our holiday meals already prepared from the grocery store – but we could never eat it like that.

We would sprinkle red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and pepper and chop up little jalapeños and cilantro and sprinkle it over everything. Then, we would make a huge pot of rice and serve it right next to the turkey.

Finally, we could eat!

I’ve found thorough extensive research and scientific studies from renowned institutions like Harvard and Tufts that spices help you lose weight faster

So I make sure to use them generously during the holidays!

Here are my top 3 tips to avoid weight-gain during the holiday season.

1. Look at the holiday meal as a "Tasting" and not a "Buffet" and use this appetite-curbing spice to make it easy!

Look at the holidays in a refined way. . as a “tasting” and not a “buffet!” It’s FUN to try a little of more things without feeling like you need a nap starting at 6pm!

Crushed red pepper flakes (also called red chili flakes) INCREASE your metabolism and DECREASE your appetite so they are a must-have for your holiday tasting!

Use chili flakes on the items that you want to eat LESS of – to stay or get thin these are most of the sides except the veggies.

Make sure a bottle of crushed red pepper flakes is on the table (bring yours to share if you need to)!

Only sprinkle a pinch if that’s what you can handle or more if you like the heat!

Note: You can also or instead use a hot sauce (such as Cholula, Frank’s, and Tapatio hot sauces), fresh or picked jalapenos which will have the same effect on this day.

Here are some recommendations for what you can sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on or have it with hot sauce or jalapenos for your thinnest Thanksgiving ever!

Fill up LESS on these items because less will help you stay thin.

  • Stuffing
  • Lasagna or Pasta
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Rice
  • Rolls

2. Have a filling, protein-filled breakfast and use this sweet-spice to decrease fat storage.

On holiday (or any) mornings, add cinnamon to your breakfast. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar and as a result, you store less fat. It tastes sweet and is a perfect addition to your breakfast!

Here are some recommendations for what you can eat to start the day tighter and lighter:

  • Choose a Protein + Veggie or Fruit​
    • 2-3 eggs (can be made anyway – hardboiled, scrambled, veggie or turkey omelet) with black pepper WITH vegetable or fruit with cinnamon
    • Protein Smoothie (See the one in my free recipe or book or make your own: ½ cup berries, almond milk, 1 scoop protein powder or 5.5 oz Greek yogurt, 2 handfuls of spinach or 5 oz. frozen + ½ teaspoon cinnamon)
    • Greek Yogurt with Fruit & Chia or Crushed Flax Seed + ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Beverages
    • Coffee
    • Tea

3. Bring a healthy dish with this calorie-burning spice and stay trim!

When you bring one dish with you to share, you make sure you have at least one healthy option - and others will appreciate it too.

Black pepper burns as many calories as a 20-minute walk! Add it into your contribution and burn calories WHILE you eat. Bring 1 dish with black pepper that everyone will love and will help you stay trim!

Here are some recommendations for what you can bring so your body feels less calories even WHILE you’re putting food into your mouth.

  • Filling Salad - ​See my delicious No-Cook 3-Bean Salad that will have all the guests asking, "Who made this?"
  • Roasted Vegetables - See Nagina's Spiced Grilled Veggies here and make it on the stovetop. Or use any vegetables and roast in the oven on a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray on 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Before roasting sprinkle black pepper + any other spices on them (i.e. cumin, salt, optional red chili powder)
  • Non-Turkey Protein - Try my Easy Cumin Coriander Fish and ass black pepper (it tastes even juicier than turkey!). Other options include: Salmon, Lamb, Tofu, Deviled Eggs.

Nagina helps ambitious, busy women effortlessly lose 15 pounds with a pinch of spice! Get a copy of her free Weight-loss Recipes Handbook for Busy Women with 7 recipes using fat-burning spices at her website,

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Thanks for reading this very long post on how to prevent holiday weight gain. We hope it will help you get through the Holiday Season unscathed at least by excess weight! Thanks again to everyone who took part - it was an honor to be able to read and receive so much great advice.  So much care was taken over the answers and this post is jam packed full of great advice general and specific.

If you have any tips you would like to share, please comment below with how you prevent holiday weight gain.

4 thoughts on “How To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain – 31 Weight Loss Experts Reveal Their Top 3 Tips”

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