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Avoid gaining weight during this holiday season

Posted by The Alaska Club | Nov 4, 2014 2:10:00 PM

As we approach the holiday season we anticipate gathering with friends and family and enjoying delicious seasonal treats, but there is also resignation that, come January, 1-2 more inches will be glued to our waistlines.  During holiday months people tend to gain more weight and this is usually accompanied by guilt for overindulgence.


This is the time to start planning and to resolve to enjoy the season without the added  physical and emotional baggage.  Here are some tips: 

  • Start collecting healthy recipes for the holidays - choose recipes that show the nutritional breakdown so that you can track the amount of calories per serving size. If a recipe calls for an ingredient high in fat, substitute chicken stock, fat-free yogurt, light cream cheese or low fat milk. For baking, replace oil or butter with non-fat yogurt or applesauce.  Cut the amount of sugar in half. 
  • Avoid filling your pantry with high calorie sweet holiday treats before the holidays as this will increase the temptation to mindlessly graze.  Stock with healthier foods.
  • If you are heading to parties, plan ahead.  Avoid going to parties with an empty stomach.  Eat an apple beforehand.  Drink plenty of water. You will more easily exercise self- control if you are not so hungry. When going to a potluck, take something that is light.
  •  If a party is buffet style, scan the foods before getting in line. Use the “pick and choose” approach rather than sampling each food.  Take only items that are among your "must haves" and only in small portions.  Avoid going back for seconds.
  • Take time to chew well and taste each bite.  This will help you to recognize when you are full and to avoid the temptation to overindulge.  Fill your plate with lean protein, less sauce, lots of vegetables and some carbs. Avoid or limit high fat offerings such as fried, creamy and cheesy foods.
  • Be careful with holiday drinks. Alcohol is high in calories and it stimulates appetite.  Start with non-alcoholic fruit punch, diet drinks or sparkling water instead of eggnog or cocktail mixes.  During and after the meal, limit your drink to wine or beer.
  • If you are hosting a party, you have control over the menu. Start with a light appetizer like whole grain crackers with a low fat cheese, veggie with a low calorie dip, shrimp cocktail or fruit with a low fat cheese.  For the main meal, trim fat from meats and serve with a light sauce.  For your side dish, try using simpler vegetable dishes instead of casseroles with heavy sauces.  They will add color and nutrition to the table. For dessert, make only one or two and in smaller portions. Try fruit salad instead of heavy pies.  Have plenty of low or non-caloric drink available. Share leftovers with others.
  • Pay attention to calorie content of some holiday favorites:



 Serving Size


Turkey, roasted

6oz, untrimmed


Ham, roasted

6oz, extra lean


Beef, roasted

6oz (4-5 thin slices)



1 cup



½ cup


Cranberry sauce

½ cup


Candied sweet potato

¾ cup


Mashed potato

1 cup


Green bean casserole

1 cup


Pumpkin pie w/ whipped cream

1 slice


Pecan pie

1 slice



1 cup



1 glass or 5oz



1 bottle


Irish coffee

10 oz


Remember that the holidays are actually only 3 days - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. You don’t gain weight because you overeat one day. It actually takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. If you over-indulge at one holiday meal, put it behind you and go back to your usual eating plan the following day. It is the vicious cycle of inactivity and eating too many calories over many days that causes the weight gain, so take care of what you take in and stay physically active!

Topics: Nutrition

Written by The Alaska Club

The Alaska Club serves the Anchorage, Mat-Su, Fairbanks, and Juneau area with individual, family and spa memberships. Join today!

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