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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Holidays


How to avoid holiday weight gain

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, nutrition and health education specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


During the holidays, many people accept that they are going to gain weight and assume they can lose it later. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases found that most people gain about 1 pound during the holidays. That may seem worth it to be able to indulge in holiday treats. The downside, however, is that most people don’t ever lose that 1 pound. Year after year, those pounds start adding up.


The best plan is to avoid gaining holiday weight so you never have to worry about losing it. It’s not impossible — it just takes some planning and good decision making.


Try these tips for maintaining your weight during the holiday season:


  1. Eat breakfast. This tip applies year-round, but it is especially important this time of year. People who eat breakfast eat less the rest of the day.
  2. If you are at a party, choose the small plate. Research shows that we base the amount of food we take on the plate size and not on our own hunger cues.
  3. Eat the food you put on the small plate and then wait 15 minutes before you decide if you need to go back for more. Most will find that the food on the small plate was plenty.
  4. Get plenty of rest — people who are sleep deprived eat more.
  5. Take a healthy food to the party to be sure there’s something for you to eat.
  6. Keep a food journal to help you be more mindful about what goes in your mouth. People who write down every bite they eat tend to eat less. Calories in the little bites we take here and there add up fast.
  7. Get moving! If you are consuming extra calories, burn them off by including movement in your holiday activities such as walking and caroling, sledding, ice skating and walking to view holiday decorations rather than driving.


The holidays are meant to be a festive happy time. Practice these tips and you can still have a great time but you won’t have to worry about losing that pound in January.


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Last update: Tuesday, December 07, 2010