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Holiday Survival Guide

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

Playing the holiday eating game can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. Preplanning and defensive eating strategies can help you get through the holidays without a lot of excess poundage to get rid of when the holiday season is over. Don’t deprive yourself but do be aware of what you are eating and drinking. If you normally gain 5 lbs. during the holidays, try to make it your goal to gain only 2 ½ lbs. this year. My message to you throughout the holiday season is “maintain don’t gain”, give up trying to “diet”, if you can do that you are ahead and will feel energized with the start of the New Year.

Here are the top ten tactics to put in your backpack to survive the holiday season.


  1. Don’t skip meals during the holidays – going hungry will only make you more vulnerable to temptation. Your body is afraid that there will be such a long stretch of time before the next meal, it stores most of that big meal as fat.

  2. During a party week, cut each day's calories back slightly – no more than 200 to 300 calories per day and “bank” those calories for the party.

  3. Before you go to a party, eat a piece of fruit, some nuts, a cup of soup or a small salad – don’t go starved.

  4. Watch out for salty foods, they’ll encourage you to drink more. Go easy on sauces and condiments – they can turn a reasonable food into high calorie disaster. Watch out for spicy foods- spices tend to lurk in high calorie foods they stimulate your adrenaline, which coaxes you to have more.

  5. Look over the whole buffet or snack table and decide what you will choose before you get in line – If there are 10 items on the table, choose your favorite 4 or 5 and indulge with moderation. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite. If you have to try a little of everything, fill the serving spoon only ½ full.

  6. Make tradeoffs – If you are having pie or cake for dessert, skip the rolls. Try eating popcorn or raw vegetables instead of peanuts. Don’t save the “best for last” when you’ll be tempted to stuff it is even though you’re already full.

  7. Tighten your belt before you dig-in – this discomfort will be a great “stop” signal. Or, put on a pair of your sexy skinny jeans.

  8. Decide how many drinks you will have before you go to the party and stick to it – Alcohol adds lots of empty calories and undermines your willpower against those high calorie snacks. Try making first drink club soda or mineral water and switch back to club soda or mineral water when you’ve consumed the drinks you decided you would have. Stay away from super high calories drinks with milk or fruit juice bases.

  9. Learn to say, “No thank you”, and mean it when you’ve had enough. Don’t let anyone push you into eating or drinking more than you want. The only person who will have to work off those extra pounds is you!

  10. EXERCISE – Try to resist the urge to plop in front of the television or play video games after a meal. Exercise not only raises your metabolism to help burn off those extra calories, but it helps to relax and re-energize you. Increase your exercise load during the holiday – don’t let it slip. You’ll be more body conscious and less likely to overeat. Also, increasing your exercise keeps those calories from turning into pounds. Walk with family and friends during get to-gethers, dancing is a great way to work it off, how about the electric slide, when is the last time you jumped double-dutch rope, hula-hoop, or have a family bowling party.

Follow this simple road map for success so you won’t be mistaken for Santa during the holiday season! Remember the reason for the season, CELEBRATE!

Remember that every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season, Michelle Stewart, MPH,RDN,LDN,CDCES,FAND

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