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Keep the Weight Down Over the Holidays

November 3, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they will start back with their healthy eating and exercising habits in the new year – you know, those New Year’s resolutions we all make come January.

But with just a little effort, it’s possible to enjoy all your favorite holiday foods without totally sacrificing your healthy habits.

It’s all about finding a balance. I tell myself that Thanksgiving is one day, Christmas is one day, New Year’s is one day. If you look at it this way, you can go heavy on the gravy and have a slice (or two) of pumpkin pie on those days while continuing to incorporate your healthy habits during the rest of November and December.

Here are my suggestions for navigating this holiday season with your waistline intact:

  • If you are headed to a party or a big holiday dinner, don’t arrive starving. Eat normally that day; don’t skip meals thinking you are saving calories – that just leads to overeating once you get to the party. I try to focus on the people and avoid mingling around the appetizers and snacks where it is easy to mindlessly eat too much. When dishing up your food, use smaller plates and think about filling it by putting protein on ¼ of the plate, starchy veggies or grains on another ¼, then fill other half with non-starchy veggies and fruit. This is a more balanced way to fix your plate that won’t lead to too many extra calories.
  • When I am invited to a gathering and am asked to bring a dish to share, I try to make something with veggies or fruit like a festive salad. My favorite is a mixed green salad topped with chopped honey crisp apples, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and feta dressed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette (see my recipe below). This looks so seasonal with red and green colors and makes a great fresh side dish at any Christmas meal.

I always look forward to the food and sweets this time of year, but continuing to maintain my health and fitness regimen during the season helps balance out those days when I overindulge. I do this by:

  • Making time to exercise and getting good quality sleep each night, which helps reduce stress that can lead to making poor food choices.
  • Eating three balanced meals a day that include lean protein, a little fat, and a high-fiber carbohydrate like whole grains and vegetables.
  • Having a small snack between meals – a protein like nuts or cheese paired with a fiber-rich carbohydrate such as an apple or whole grain crackers – to help regulate blood sugar and keep energy levels stable throughout the day.

Hopefully, following these tips will help you enjoy the holidays without any unwanted weight gain.

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper (finely ground)
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the oil and whisk thoroughly to combine. Continue whisking until the dressing is fully emulsified.
  • Store in a jar with a lid and refrigerate. Shake well before serving. Enjoy!

    Juliana Wright, RDN, LD, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Huntsville Hospital Wellness Center.