Don’t Give Up! Healthy Eating During the Holidays

Don’t Give Up! Healthy Eating During the Holidays

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It’s that time of year again. Days and nights filled with festivities, family, and food. A lot of food. And let’s not forget those holiday-inspired coffees and cocktails that sneak their way in, too. What are you left with after all the merriment subsides? Weight gain. If you’re lucky it’ll only be 1 pound, but if you’re already carrying a few extra, chances are it’ll be more. In most cases, this weight sticks around well into the new year. And so begins the slow annual creep of weight gain. But fear not! Armed with a few simple techniques, it is possible to stay on top of your healthy eating goals through the holidays.

1. Forget weight loss, focus on weight neutral. Start by setting a resolution early—why wait to pack on the pounds? A recent study showed Americans are at their slimmest in October and heaviest in early January, gaining an average of just over 1 pound, with only half this weight gain coming off quickly—the other half tends to stick around until the following summer at least! It’s better to be proactive and commit to staying the same weight through the holidays. Then when the new year rolls in, you can celebrate remaining weight neutral as a gigantic success.

2. Continue to weigh yourself. Keep a close eye on your weight by stepping on the scale more frequently. Pick a day or two a week to weigh in—first thing on Monday and Friday mornings tends to work well. You’ll be able to see changes as they’re happening, and prevent small gains from turning into big ones.

3. Do keep food logging. Along with weight checks, one of the best ways to stay focused is to use the food logging feature in the Words of the Web app. Consider it your secret weapon against dreaded holiday weight gain. It’s okay to skip a day here and there, but try to track most of the week, and get into the habit of logging as you eat, so you don’t forget later. Plan in advance—that way you’ll be able to see just how many cookies you can eat before you blow your calorie budget. And most important, be honest with yourself, even if you wish you could forget how many cocktails you drank last night!

4. A treat is okay! There’s no need to go into holiday hibernation, but with multiple cocktail parties, roast dinners, and cookie exchanges to attend, learn to be more discerning—eat what you love, not what you like. If your aunt’s pumpkin pie is your weakness, eat it! (Then politely turn down seconds and leftovers.) But if you’re not that attached to cornbread, skip it altogether and save the calories.

5. Get back on track after over-doing it. After a night of overindulgence, listen to your body, and allow it time to reset: you probably won’t be as hungry the next morning, so have a lighter breakfast and even possibly lunch, drink lots of water, and return to your healthy habits. Even if you’re party hopping or busy shopping, make time to hit the gym or go for a walk.

6. Take care of yourself first. Sometimes, you have to be a social snob. Keep a calendar of events, and rather than jumping on every party invite, plan your weeks and be selective of what you say yes to. Replace any fear of missing out with thoughts of self care.

Most important: Don’t get discouraged. The simple act of bringing some consideration and mindfulness to special occasions will help you enjoy the season more. Embrace this time of year as a time to connect with family and friends, away from the food table, and truly celebrate your health and happiness.


  1. loved your article!

    I’ve eaten like this for some time and it absolutely works. Problem is, I’ve gotten really sick of eggs! Any other suggestions for breakfast?

    Also… on the occasional coffee house run, do you recommend heavy cream or half & half added to coffee? Or even in a latte?

  2. Awesome. I am starting a gluten-free diet tomorrow. I am extremely overweight, will give feedback after 8 months.

  3. Gluten free is never the answer! Unless you are fighting celiac disease, there are much better and healthier options! Carb counting is the closest to gluten free and makes more sense. When companies make gluten free foods, they substitute gluten for other high carb ingredients! Not going to help like you thought it would!

  4. Forgive me, but if they used gluten free in the context of this low carb – real food based diet there is no need to be concerned about what is substituted for gluten in foods because you wouldn’t be eating anything processed to start with. Just saying.

  5. Can you provide meal plan with a vegetarian only diet in it? I would really appreciate it .

  6. Just needed to put here that this doesn’t work for everybody. In fact there is a LOT of people it doesn’t work for. Yes, some of us are probably designed to thrive on this diet and it is obviously all those people who post up endless praise for it and perpetuate the myth of it’s interminable effectiveness…however for many it might well shorten their life, not save it. Low carb is not usually suitable for diabetics, those with thyroid disorders, adrenal issues or people who have ever had a restrictive eating disorder. I ought to know as I fit into all but one of those categories (I am not diabetic) and for me this diet was an unmitigated disaster. I gained 2 stone, lost all my energy and my thyroid levels plummeted. Horrible. I later discovered that low carb diets can actually cause insulin resistance, damage the kidneys and cause heart issues. Maybe not in everybody, but then, cavemen didn’t live very long, not long enough for us to know the long term effects of this diet. Meanwhile nothing yet has proven better treatment for heart disease than keeping fat intake less than 10% of calories and being vegan, and while I don’t rabidly claim that everyone should be vegan or vegetarian, you can’t deny the statistics that show veggies live longer than omnivores. A low fat vegan diet not only prevents but actually reverses heart disease. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I am not aware of any studies showing “paleo” does the same thing. It isn’t totally unnatural not to eat animals; orangutans are our closest cousins and are vegetarian. The evidence would err on the side of plants being our best fuel. Don’t get me wrong, if this diet really works for you, then do it – but there are other options. Personally I am about 80% vegan and don’t count anything; I never eat weird things like tofu, I just have lots of good whole foods. I eat a lot of carbs and I feel much, much better doing so. I agree that eggs are a nutritious food and ideal for many people as a top whack supplement. Other than that, our planet is already oversubscribed; the meat and dairy industry is one of the most damaging in the world (including grass fed and free range – even grass fed cows make alot of methane!). There is just not enough space, resources and climatic leeway for us all to eat “paleo”. So while I DON’T think NOBODY should be paleo, I do think that if you can be healthy being vegetarian or vegan then it is your responsibility to humanity. I just wanted to give the other side of the story as this article is very one sided and may be misleading. We’re talking about people’s health here. It would be nice if every diet/lifestyle faction would reiterate that everyone is an individual and should be very cautious when changing their diet, and not take any single diet as the be all and end all. I wish everyone who reads this good health and the sanity to make the right decision for them personally, in this confusing world of dietary warfare! 🙂