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Here’s how to get through the holiday season without gaining weight or ruining your diet.

The holidays are filled with so many opportunities to eat in less-than-healthy ways. There are indulgent foods we look forward to eating only at this time of the year. We may also spend our days and nights at more parties, dinners and get-togethers, where food and drink are abundant. That’s why it should come as no surprise that many people gain a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

While temptation may certainly be greater at this time of year, there’s no reason to throw your commitment to healthy eating out the window during the holiday season. There’s also no reason to deprive yourself of the foods you love. The key to sticking to a healthy eating plan and not gaining weight is to embrace moderation and mindfulness. These tips can also help:

  1. Be selective. There will be lots of food at parties and dinners, but there’s no need to eat everything. Eat what you love or don’t get to enjoy regularly and leave the rest behind.
  2. Take a taste. Instead of depriving yourself of foods you really want, take a small serving and savor the flavor. Just remind yourself that the first bite is always the best bite.
  3. Step away. Standing or sitting next to a table full of food can make it more likely you’ll reach for more. Get up, move away and engage in conversation so your main focus is not on the food.
  4. Don’t arrive hungry. You’re more likely to overeat or make poor food decisions if you are hungry. Eat a small snack before you arrive that includes a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat.
  5. Watch your liquid calories. Not only do the calories in alcoholic drinks add up quickly, but you may be more likely to abandon your healthy eating plans after a few cocktails. Have a glass of water or seltzer between drinks to keep alcohol consumption in check.
  6. Eat slowly. It takes some time for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full. If you’re thinking of seconds, take a break first before deciding if you’re really still hungry.
  7. Adapt recipes. If you are the person hosting, make your favorite recipes using less fat, sugar or salt. You can find plenty of healthy holiday recipes online.
  8. Don’t show up empty-handed. Offer to bring a dish or two. This way, there will be something available that you know fits in with your dietary plan. Your host will appreciate the offer, too.
  9. Eat healthy most of the time. Indulging at one party or having more than usual to eat at one dinner won’t wreak havoc on your diet. Just get right back on track.
  10. Focus on what matters. Although food is a big part of holiday celebrations, the most important thing is spending time with family and friends. Keep that in mind and the tempting foods in front of you may lose some of their power.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 12, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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