Tips For Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

This publication in no way seeks to diagnose or treat illness or to serve as a substitute for professional medical care.

Is it possible to celebrate the holiday season without packing on extra pounds? Absolutely, but it requires willpower as well as some simple strategies to sidestep holiday food temptations and avoid overeating. That’s why Tennova Healthcare is offering tips to help you beat the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s weight gain odds.

Recent studies have debunked the myth that the average American gains 7–10 pounds during the holiday season, but don’t break out the eggnog just yet. Those same studies confirm that holiday weight gain does happen to most people.

The average increase is between 1.5 and 2 pounds, and the scale creep actually starts as early as October. Perhaps more important is the fact that many people fail to take this weight back off after the holidays are over. That means that ‘holiday weight’ alone could add 20 pounds to your body during a single decade of your life.

The tradition of holiday weight gain has several contributing factors, including increased social events, holiday stress eating, and lack of time for cooking, meal planning and exercising. However, the biggest obstacle is likely very simple: holiday foods are often loaded with calories.

Holiday foods can contain a lot of land mines, even for those who are educated about food and mindful of calories. We all know that mashed potatoes can be a calorie- and carb-killer. But what about that medium-sized candied sweet potato? It contains a surprising 305 calories—and that’s a whole lunch for someone trying to watch or lose weight.

Keep in mind that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat. The average Thanksgiving dinner totals 3,000 calories, with an additional 1,500 calories in appetizers and drinks before the big meal.

Portion size is another holiday food trap. For instance, keep in mind that one cup of mashed potatoes is only about the size of your fist. Going back for seconds can really add up.

Tennova Healthcare offers these tips to help you stay on the right track during the holiday season:

  • Choose healthy snacks. Snack on raw veggies dipped in vinaigrette or a handful of nuts as an appetizer.

  • Be selective, not rigid. You can have it all, but not all at the same time. Meaning that you do not have to give up your favorite foods, but try to limit to one or two indulgences at a time vs. all at once.

  • Don’t graze. Use a plate (and make it a small one).

  • Beware of leftovers. Say “no thanks” to take-home stuffing, pie and potatoes.

  • Consume protein with meals. Aim for the size of the palm of your hand with protein sources. These will help to keep you full at meal times as well as to balance the higher level of carbohydrates during the holidays.

  • Fill up on fiber. Try to make half of your plate vegetables because these low calorie and highly nutritious foods will keep you fuller.

  • Don’t starve yourself. It is so common to fast during the morning and afternoon before a large holiday meal. Instead, consume a balanced meal that incorporates both protein and fiber earlier in the day to prevent overeating later at a holiday event.

  • Get in your exercise. Play outside with the kids, rake leaves, go to the gym, take long walks. Exercise is your best ally in the battle against holiday weight gain as well as holiday stress and depression.

One meal will not dictate your weight. Enjoy the holidays and the social time with family and friends, and try to incorporate these tips. Remember, though, consistently consuming nutritious meals over the course of the entire holiday season is what will ultimately help stave off the unwanted pounds.

Do you have nutritional questions or looking for some help with your weight management? Tennova Healthcare – Clarksville offers a group Nutrition Weight Management Program as well as Individual Nutrition Counseling. To learn more visit and click on the Events tab or call all 931-502-1127.

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