How To Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Photo by  Angelina Litvin  on  Unsplash

You see it every year. A huge push by diet companies to help you “not gain that holiday weight” before Thanksgiving and then another huge push to “lose those holiday pounds” after the New Year. I have overheard more than one conversation about how “I gained so much weight over the holidays” or “I need to lose this holiday weight”.  And while the actual number gained may be exaggerated by marketing campaigns, the point is, don’t let what is supposed to be a celebration sabotage your progress. And you don’t need a pill or a fancy program to be successful. Applying some simple keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the year, including this season, have helped us to never bust out the fat pants AND still enjoy the holiday festivities.


1.   Drink water. Lots of water

MOST people are dehydrated. It is recommended that most people drink AT LEAST half their body weight in ounces per day. Calculations: If you weigh 200 lbs you need to drink 100oz of water per day.

 In fact, when you’re thirsty, it is the first sign that you are actually dehydrated.

Drink water before you are thirsty.

2.   Substitute healthier ingredients wherever possible

In many recipes, you can use raw honey instead of white sugar, real butter or even coconut oil instead of margarine.

And for the love of all that is holy, please, please, PLEAAASEEEE do not use fake sugar for anything. Ever. As long as we both shall live. It’s horrible for you.

Danielle Walker over at Against All Grain has some fantastic recipes that are specifically designed to be healthy replacements for holiday staples.

We own and use these three cookbooks by Danielle Walker:

Against All Grain

Meals Made Simple


*P.S. these are affiliate links, yo. Which means that if you purchase through these links we get a small percentage at no additional cost to you


3.   Do something physical with the family instead of lounging

Growing up in a rodeo family, we would often all go ride after Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.

Go for a walk, play a pickup game of basketball, or start a family football game tradition.

4.   Be intentional about your sleep

There are studies on top of studies about how important sleep is to our bodies, and most people do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. One of the most detrimental side effects of not getting enough sleep is that your body reacts like it is “under attack”, essentially activating the fight-or-flight response. Undue stress often causes weight gain.

5.   Make sure to eat small meals or snacks throughout the day instead of just one GIANT meal.

I know. This almost sounds sacrilegious, but taking good care of your metabolism is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Saving all your calories or macros or “room” for a giant binge-worthy holiday dinner is hard on your digestive system and your metabolism. 

Eat other healthy meals throughout the day, snack on some fruit.

Keep your metabolism working. You are less likely to overeat if you haven’t been starving all day.

6.   Wait 5 minutes to actually start eating after sitting down to dine

One of our family traditions is to take turns talking about something that we are thankful for before we dive into a holiday dinner. Not only does this give your body time to take a chill pill and realize that you do not actually NEED to consume five times your normal meal size in one sitting, but verbalizing gratitude is good for your mental and emotional health as well. 

7. Just one or two days of not eating “perfectly” is NOT going to completely blow your progress.

You don’t get out of shape or overweight in one day. The “holiday weight gain” doesn’t happen because you have one bite of one thing.  It happens because you have all the bites of all the things.

Photo by  Jill Heyer  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jill Heyer on Unsplash

Yes, food is an integral part of lots of celebrations and there are certain dishes that bring lots of happy memories with them.  But realize that ultimately Thanksgiving and Christmas are not about food. They are about a promise fulfilled and the joy found with intentional gratitude. 

What are some of your favorite healthy holiday hacks? What are your favorite holiday traditions? is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to