The Stitch

Nine Tips for Maintaining Weight through the Holiday Season

It’s holiday time again! This is a wonderful time to be celebrating; however, it can also be challenging for those who are trying to lose or maintain weight.

Nutritionists at Baylor College of Medicine advise that you can enjoy most things but remember to do them in moderation. Make a plan and try to stick to it!

A holiday dinner table with plates and silverware laid out with a bunch of candy canes set in a glass jar in the middle of the table.The following tips were designed for people who underwent weight loss surgery, but most of them can be applied to anyone at the holiday season who is trying to keep on track with their diet and nutrition.

1. Stick to a schedule.

Skipping meals to save calories is an easy way to overdue it when the food shows up, especially sweets. Try to stick to regular schedule of eating to avoid going to parties hungry, which, almost always, leads to overeating.

2. Keep up with regular exercise.

Even when things get busy, don’t let your exercise habit fall by the wayside until the holidays end. Go out for a walk and look at the lights displayed throughout your neighborhood or area.

3. Continue to follow the basic rules.

A holiday meal should be looked at as your typical, everyday meal. Prioritize your meals! Protein first, chew food well and eat slowly. Remember to keep your eating and drinking separate by at least 30 minutes.

4. Drink plenty of water.

Stay hydrated! Watch alcohol. Not only is alcohol absorbed much faster after weight loss surgery and you are unable to eat and drink together so it will have a heightened effect, but it is also full of empty calories.

5. Bring a dish to share.

This way you know there will be a healthier option available that you will be able to tolerate without difficulty. You will still be able to enjoy the festivities and not feel out of place because there is nothing for you to eat.

6. Pack your own treats.

Stock up on nutritious snacks so you will have less temptation around all the cakes and cookies that may be around during the holidays. (Avoid the break room areas if necessary.)

7. But if you do want the dessert or other items that you would not typically eat…

  • Save the best for last – fill up on the protein and vegetables first. You may not have room for the other items.
  • Choose the dessert or item that you rarely come across and have that be the choice for the “extra” item that you eat.
  • Stick to a very small portion – the first bite tastes the same as the last. So, enjoy a few bites and that may be all you need to feel satisfied!

8. Be mindful.

It is easy to overindulge when there is food and you are socializing. Focus on the conversation and save eating for later. Avoid standing next to the food table. When it is time to eat, focus on that. You will probably enjoy it better and when you can eat slowly and savor what you eat!

9. Swap this for that…

You can still feel part of the holiday celebration without compromising your goals.

Holiday food (per serving) Healthy swap (per serving)
Champagne (100 kcal) Sparkling water with blueberries (5kcal)
Creamy mashed potatoes (350 kcal) Cauliflower mash (100 kcal)
Candied sweet potatoes (275 kcal) Maple sweet potato casserole (lower calorie)
Traditional cornbread (200 kcal) Greek yogurt /whole wheat flour cornbread (lower calorie)
Green bean casserole (150 kcal) Roasted green beans with lemon and salt (35 kca)
Pecan pie (500 kcal) Pecan-stuffed dates (150 kcal)
  • You can also add flavor with spices, herbs and garlic instead of fats (butter, gravy)
  • Use skim instead of whole milk in recipes
  • Substitute sugar with unsweetened applesauce or natural sweeteners, such as Stevia or Swerve

By Rachel Griehs, registered dietitian at the Weight Loss and Metabolic Center at Baylor Medicine.

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