A dietitian's guide to avoiding holiday weight gain

December 15, 2017
MUSC Health dietitian Nina Crowley and her daughter Andie prepare healthy holiday snacks.
MUSC Health dietitian Nina Crowley and her daughter Andie prepare healthy holiday snacks.

Nina Crowley, an MUSC Health dietitian who helps people lose weight and keep the pounds off, shares the advice she gives her clients as we head into the holidays.


Plan, plan, plan. Plan workouts from now until after the New Year. Enter them in your calendar or create recurring meeting requests. Set out workout clothes the night before. Bring entertainment.

If you bite it, write it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but consider keeping a journal throughout the holidays to keep track of your food intake, exercise, vitamins and even emotions through the holidays.

Relax. Make plans to do yoga, talk with friends, walk or meditate.

Dance. Enjoy the holiday music and events that have dancing opportunities. You get bonus points for this, since it keeps you physically away from the areas with food.

Stay hydrated. Make hydration a priority over the holidays, and make a rule to keep beverages calorie-free. At parties, holding a glass of water in your hand keeps you both hydrated and unable to hold a plate of food.

Go shopping. Use your time allotted for shopping for gifts as an extra chance to get some movement. Walk around the shopping center after you’re done shopping.

Is it special? Most of the foods at holiday parties are available year-round. If you find a must-have item, take one or two bites and move on.

Non-food traditions: This time of year is about a lot more than eating. Start food-free traditions in your family like ice skating, caroling, reading holiday stories or making holiday crafts.

Don’t go on empty. Don’t save up all day for one event. Stick to your regular schedule and don’t nibble and graze all day in anticipation of one big meal or event.

Don’t drive through: Don’t let the hectic holiday schedule force you to eat fast food. Plan your meals so you aren’t hungry when you are out.

Listen to your body. Ask yourself if you are actually hungry or if you are eating because the food is there. Are you bored? Depressed? Stressed?

Eat slowly, and chew, chew, chew. Slowly eating may have fallen off your radar, but really try to pay attention to your hunger and fullness during the holidays.

Use a small plate. And don’t fill it up all the way. No seconds.

Dress for the occasion. It is much harder to overeat when you have a slim-fitting dress or tight pants reminding you of your weight loss successes and how great you look and feel.

About the Author

Helen Adams

Keywords: Fitness and Wellness