3 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Top 3 Effective Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

In today’s article, you can learn how to avoid putting on weight with three simple tips you can begin practicing today:

  1. Meal planning and snack schedule
  2. Prioritize healthy eating essentials 
  3. Plan for a “cheat meal” (and why the term is problematic) 

Let’s dive in with holiday weight gain statistics!

Holiday Weight Gain Statistics

Even if you work hard all year to build healthy habits and maintain your weight, holiday pressures and indulgences may push the scale up. 

Average Weight Gain During Holidays

The average holiday weight gain from mid-November through the New Year is 1-2 pounds for U.S. adults. These statistics on holiday weight gain might not seem like much, but most people don’t lose the weight they put on.

Holiday weight gain contributes to overall weight gain over time. While weight gain isn’t a moral issue, inherently when we gain fat especially around the organs (known as visceral fat) this is problematic.

This type of fat is what directly triggers chronic disease states such as diabetes and cardio-metabolic health conditions associated with being overly fed and under-nourished.

The Problem with New Year’s Weight Loss Resolutions 

Many of us swing between extremes when it comes to weight management strategies. It’s common to follow a restrictive diet to lose weight as quickly as possible but when it isn’t sustainable, it swings to the other extreme and we over-indulge, causing even more weight gain. 

Then, since we had already fallen off the diet, we keep going. We vow to start again on Monday or with a New Year’s resolution. This yo-yo dieting cycle isn’t a long-term solution for health. Even more worrisome, since restrictive diets often result in the loss of lean muscle mass, the “weight” we lose isn’t just fat but the metabolically important lean muscle that helps keep us healthy and looking toned too.

If we don’t take conscious efforts to gain back muscle, when we do put the weight back on we are gaining pure fat. Again, excess fat, especially viscerally is the root of many chronic health conditions today. The solution is to kiss traditional “diets” goodbye and find a sustainable solution.

The Indulgence-Restriction Cycle

Yo-yo dieting plays out over the holidays as well. It’s common to overeat through the holiday season and then try to overhaul eating behaviors with a New Year’s resolution to diet and lose weight.

The problem is that the diet doesn’t work, and it keeps you in a restriction-overindulgence cycle. The body inherently knows when it’s being starved and to protect itself it sends signals for you to seek out highly caloric foods.

In this modern food landscape calorie dense, fatty and sugary foods are everywhere so it’s too easy to complete the restrict-binge cycle.

How to Avoid Putting on Weight this Holiday Season



Instead of swinging between extremes, you can live in the middle, even during the holidays. Healthy eating can be your foundation for the entire year and allow for pleasure and celebration without going overboard. Then, you don’t have to worry about how to lose holiday weight because you didn’t gain any. 

Meal Planning and Snack Schedules

Tip #1 is to plan meals and snacks. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. So, instead of restricting, skipping meals, and trying to “save calories for later,” stick to regular meals and snacks. A regular eating pattern will help you maintain blood sugar and avoid extreme hunger, making it easier to enjoy a treat without binging. 

For example, if you go to a holiday party with drinks and sweets, make sure you eat a meal or a substantial snack (like Scott’s Protein Balls) before you go.

Pro tip: most catered, restaurant or prepared meals for holidays have excess fats added.  While you don’t need to avoid fats earlier in the day, you can make a conscious effort to eat “lighter” meals and snacks while focusing on fiber and protein.  Trust me, you’ll get your fats in at your event without even trying!  But what you likely wont find at the holiday party is…fiber!

Prioritize the Healthy Eating Essentials

Many holiday traditions involve food, particularly rich, sugary options that contribute to the average weight gain during the holidays. As you’re eating regular meals and including healthy snacks throughout the holiday season, think about tip #2: include protein, fiber, and healthy fat each time you eat.  

Protein, Fiber, Healthy Fats

Each meal and snack should include protein, fiber, and healthy fats. For example, Scott’s Protein Balls contain:

  • Protein from plant-based protein powder, nuts, and seeds
  • Fiber from nuts, seeds, cacao, spices, and other plant foods
  • Healthy fats from nuts and seeds

The protein, fiber, and healthy fat combination helps you feel full and satisfied.

Pro tip: keep your saturated fats below 10% of total calorie intake. Studies show that we all have a “personal fat threshold” which makes nutrition science so confusing – sadly there is no one size fits all because no two bodies are the same.

You might be lean but have a lower fat threshold than your neighbor who is 20 pounds overweight.  Meaning, your neighbor albeit a little heavier, might stay healthier for longer than you despite being a little heavier.

This is why we can’t judge a book by its cover. The factor that might drive up your threshold and keep you metabolically healthier for longer is keeping saturated fats low and dietary fiber high.

Need help understanding your ideal calorie range so you can make sure your fiber and saturated fat are ideal? Email us with your receipt number from any purchase made between November 1 and December 31 and our dietitian will provide you with a personalized caloric range and amount of protein, fat, saturated fat, fiber, total carbohydrate, protein and added sugars you should aim for this holiday season to maintain a healthy weight.

Treat Yourself to Cheat Meals Guilt-Free

Now that “cheat meals” have your attention, the truth is that this term comes from diet culture and perpetuates the on-again, off-again nature of dieting. If you follow a set of rules and then “cheat” you may feel bad about yourself and stay stuck in an unhealthy cycle.

Tip #3 is about pleasure. When you are eating healthfully, without dieting, there is room for pleasure from food. Think about it this way: perhaps 80-90% of the time, you eat regular meals, including protein, fiber, and healthy fats. The other 10-20% of the time you’re allowed to eat for pure enjoyment and without guilt. 

The catch is to be intentional about what you choose. Instead of taste-testing everything on the buffet or eating holiday cookies while distracted by work, decide what you are most excited about, such as your aunt’s famous apple pie. Then, sit down, eat it slowly, and savor the experience. Some people feel a sense of FOMO at the buffet and want to try everything.  Hey look, we get it, life’s not always fair.  But if you focus on what you do get versus what you’re not getting your growth mindset will keep you healthy both mentally and physically.

Gaining weight over the holidays is common but not inevitable. How you eat throughout the year can be the same over the holidays, with a foundation of nutritious choices while allowing for the full eating experience. Consider a healthy relationship with food to be your holiday diet

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What Are the Top Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain?

To prevent holiday weight gain, prioritize balanced meals with plenty of vegetables and lean proteins, stay active with regular exercise, and practice mindful eating to savor each bite.

How to Not Gain Weight on Thanksgiving?

On Thanksgiving, eat smaller amounts, choose more turkey and veggies, and eat less of the heavy side dishes and sweets. A walk or some exercise on that day can help too.

Is It Possible to Stay on a Diet During Holiday Celebrations?

Yes, you can stay on a diet during holiday celebrations by planning ahead, bringing your own healthy dishes to gatherings, and setting personal limits on portion sizes and indulgences.

How Can I Avoid Overeating at Holiday Gatherings?

To avoid overeating at holiday gatherings, start by eating a healthy snack before attending, use smaller plates to control portion sizes, and focus on socializing away from the food table.

How to Not Gain Weight on Vacation?

On vacation, stay active by walking a lot and trying fun activities. Eat fresh foods and don't overdo the treats. Drinking water and doing a bit of exercise will also help.

  • Lori Levine is an eternal optimist and after undergoing breast cancer treatment, she learned she had to upgrade her snacks to upgrade her health. She and her husband Scott became accidental entrepreneurs after he lovingly created quality protein balls made from tasty, easily recognizable ingredients that are as convenient as they are healthy and delicious! Even better? 1% of all sales are donated to Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) to help support breast cancer research. #betheend.