How To Avoid That Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain


December 9, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Here we are with the holidays upon us once again. We all look forward to the eggnog, good friends and family, and of course, consuming massive amounts of great tasting food in a short period of time. “The hell with it” you say. After all, it’s the holiday, right? Wrong.

Research published in the New Journal of Medicine indicates the average person gains one pound during the holidays. That may not sound like much, but the problem is that people don’t lose it. They keep gaining a pound every year, year after year. That means over the course of your adult life you will gain approximately 50-60 pounds just from holiday overeating! If you are lucky to live that long! Add this amount to the usual overeating you do throughout the year and you may eventually need a little help reaching your shoes to tie them.

Hey, I certainly engage in my fair share of good cheer during the holidays. But, I am careful not to go so overboard; that is the key here. Most people fool themselves into believing that they can go overboard during the holidays because starting January 1st, they will excitedly begin that new workout regimen. Guess what, that workout regimen usually falls by the way side near February 1st. What’s left is a pudgy belly that you do not have the motivation to lose. Don’t rationalize yourself into overeating at the holidays. Follow these tips to stay within the reasonable range of holiday good cheer and overindulgence.

    1. Prepare Yourself In Advance
      You know all too well that the holiday party you are going to will have those delicious home made truffles, eggnog, cookies and fifty other things that you shouldn’t be eating. You need to anticipate these things and be ready with a response if they are offered to you. Additionally, you need to be ready to tell yourself what is an acceptable amount of food you can eat and still feel good. Before you get to a party, fill up your stomach with good foods so you’re not as tempted.


    1. Have a Plan
      As stated above, most of the time you know the general menu when you go to a holiday function. You know what will be offered, what you weaknesses are, and probably what has the most calories. Create a plan before you attend the holiday get together regarding what you will eat and what you will not eat. Or maybe you will have just a little bit of everything. The point is this, don’t just wing it. If you go into a situation with a clear plan in mind, you are more likely to stick to it that you would be otherwise. Eating is no different. Decide which foods you just cannot live without and let yourself enjoy them. Just do so in moderation.


    1. Say No
      Inevitably there will be people that try to get you to overeat. “You just have to try these cookies.” Sound familiar? Or I love this one “there is only a little left, just finish it up.” Or even tougher to turn down; “I made these especially for you, have some.” It can be difficult turning down offers of food at the holidays because you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. However, that person should understand that eating their food is not a sign of love and affection. You can just explain that you are on a health and fitness plan (not a diet) and you do not want to have any of what they are offering because they look so good, you will not be able to stop with eating just a small amount.

      Saying no is especially difficult at the holidays (unless you are just so sick of your family that you look forward to a reason to say NOOO to one of them:)), but by having a strong mind set from the start you can stick to your guns and not be pressured into overeating. Remember, once the holidays are over it is YOU that has to fit into your pants, not the person trying to get you to eat more.

      Remind yourself that the health concerns that come with overeating are far more important than the temporary slight uncomfortableness that may be felt when saying no. Or, just tell the person what you learned in the article about the information in the New England Journal of Medicine, i.e. people gain a pound on average during the holidays and never lose it. Tell them you are just trying to avoid gaining thirty pounds over the next thirty years just because of the holidays.


  1. Create A Future Goal That Does Not Permit Overeating
    This could be anything. For me, it was competing in a spring triathlon the following summer. I started training before Thanksgiving and it really helped me keep myself in check during the holidays. I did not want to gain weight and be lazy during the holidays just to lose the progress I had made in my fitness training that I had achieved so far. So when someone was cajoling me into eating more, I would say “no thanks, gotta keep in shape for a triathlon I am doing this summer.” That usually shut them right down. I figure it was for one of two reasons, the first being that they may have been intimidated by someone saying they were doing a triathlon (though they shouldn’t be, because anyone could do it with training and will power), second, they realized I was serious about my health and fitness and therefore would not get anywhere by continuing to pressure me into eating.

    You don’t have to do a triathlon. You can set a goal to do a 5K, or just tell the person you want to fit into a certain piece of clothing by spring, or you are going on vacation and want to look your best. It does not matter what the future goal me be, just so long as it enables you to overcome the pressure to overeat. Setting a future goal gives you yet another reason to turn down that second helping of Christmas cookies.

Follow these simple tips to avoid packing on the pounds this holiday season. Happy holidays everyone!

I would love to hear some stories in the comments about holiday overeating and any pressure people have received to do so. Thanks.

Written on 12/09/2008 by Mike S. Mike writes about personal development for intellectual thinkers at his website Photo Credit: jem

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