26 Attitudes and Actions to Help You Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

If you want to avoid weight gain over the holidays, you need three things:

  • a philosophy
  • a goal
  • a plan

It might sound highfalutin, as an old cowboy might say, to speak of a philosophy about holiday weight gain, but it really just means thinking about what is important to you and why. If you’ve read my past posts on weight, you know I’m not talking about an exact weight on the scale or a magazine image. However, most of us know not only what a healthy weight is for ourselves and that it would be good to fit into the same clothes, but also can see the advantage of not setting ourselves up for undoing past progress.

Just having a goal can be the start of a trajectory for good decisions related to eating and activity during the holidays. Start with a broad goal, then break it down into smaller goals until it all begins to suggest a plan. Be honest about what is important, both long and short term; then, admit that it is within your power to move in that direction. Much like a relationship with a friend, you can watch opportunity pass you by or you can act to build something worthwhile.

In the case of weight, we are building health. We are working toward an overall, balanced sense of satisfaction. I’m not saying “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” because part of the plan has to also be satisfaction with eating. Eating is part of life, as sustenance, as personal enjoyment, and as fun social interaction. Still, it can be kept in balance with other areas we want to be satisfied with. Even with eating, we don’t just indulge in one favorite food. For one thing, it would get boring. For another, we would start to feel icky after a while.

We can use this perspective of balanced satisfaction to guide our thinking about eating at any given time. Framing goals and plans in more positive terms will tend to be more motivating and more rewarding. Here are 26 attitudes and actions to help you form a plan that will work for you:


  1. Make food priorities. If you take just a moment to think before indulging, you may very well realize you don’t really want that particular food very much.
  2. Review what calorie and nutritional values foods have. Not all fun foods are junk and not all are high calorie.
  3. Don’t avoid high fat all the time, because it might be the most satisfying and even the most nutritious. Just have an idea of what you are eating.
  4. Avoid eating until you feel stuffed. Most of us will eat again tomorrow. There is no need to eat everything today.
  5. Consider that you will enjoy a meal more and longer afterward if you are not suffering from the bodily discomfort of excess.
  6. Similarly, remember to look forward to leftovers.
  7. Don’t make excuses, especially based on what you think everyone else is eating.
  8. Remember that special beverages can be deceptively calorie-full.
  9. Don’t feel pressure to finish what you have taken or what others have served you. There is not some child starving in Africa because you don’t finish your chips and dip.
  10. Eat good food regularly to avoid binging.
  11. Have a healthy snack before a party.
  12. When you really feel hungry, go ahead and have a healthy snack.
  13. Anticipate changes in the eating schedule. If you know you are having a special meal for dinner, you can be more motivated to skip a treat during the day.
  14. Make regular sleep a priority. We are weakest about goals when we are tired, plus being over-tired makes it harder to get the activity that we need.
  15. Take your own water and snacks with you when out and about, like when shopping.
  16. Plan on continuing a moderate exercise routine. Don’t stress yourself out trying to do more than is really possible, but don’t give up either.
  17. Choose social events that keep you active. Dancing is always good, but sometimes just keeping hands and mind busy can make it less likely that you will mindlessly eat.
  18. Don’t snack out of containers; rather, serve portions. It will remind you of how much you are eating.
  19. Don’t stringently deprive yourself. If you feel like you are always missing out, it will be harder to be moderate throughout the holiday season.
  20. Don’t tell yourself you *deserve* something. No one deserves special food. Talk to yourself in the honest vocabulary of what you want and don’t want.
  21. Don’t just wear loose clothing. Wear what you want to fit later.
  22. Wear clothing that makes you feel like you look good. If you feel like you look good, you are more inspired to keep working on how you look and feel.
  23. Remember that it is easier to not eat calories in the first place, when you don’t actually feel hungry, than to cut back on consumption and really feel hungry later.
  24. Don’t chide yourself for enjoying a treat. If you chose to eat it, enjoy it without guilt. Then, move on to your next choice in keeping with your priorities and goals.
  25. Find someone for mutual encouragement in keeping eating in perspective and under control.
  26. Know that you may very well be encouraging others as they see you making good eating and activity choices without making excuses and not being ruled by social pressure.

In summary, the holidays are not some unstoppable force. You are still you and food is still food. If you can make it to the New Year without feeling bloated and sluggish, you will feel happy. Make yourself happy.