Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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5 Holiday Weight Gain Myths
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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I’ll admit it, the 2009 holiday season was a tough one on my waistline. I attended THREE cookie parties within four days including one that I hosted. Then, just when I thought it was time to come down from my sugar shock, I get the call in January that it is time for me to pick up the Girl Scout Cookie orders for both of my daughters. Since my younger one is a better sales person we bought a significant number of boxes for the older one to help her meet her troop goal (I know, not a good way to teach her sales skills). Unfortunately, after consuming thousands of calories from cookies, It took me until February to get back to my pre-cookie party weight!

The holidays are indeed special, but your waistline doesn’t have to expand in order to enjoy this time of year.  The good news is you can still spend quality time with the fam and have some special holiday indulgences, without finding your bigger self come 2012.

This year, decide to make a lasting change with me in how you approach holiday eating, drinking and exercise so that, from now on, you can celebrate both the holidays and yourself!

Let’s start by debunking the 5 most common holiday weight gain myths:

Myth #1: Weight gain is as inevitable as champagne toasts over the holidays.

Do you take a “vacation” from your usual diet during this time of the year?  Do you assume that gaining 4 or 5 pounds is normal, and feast recklessly on everything in sight? Well, guess what? Most Americans only gain 1-2 lbs during the holidays.  But don’t use this as an excuse to go overboard.  Gaining those extra pounds year after year can add up quickly–making it difficult to fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans.

Celebrate Change:

-Living lean is a life-style choice that should span the year!  Consistent good habits are the key to consistent weight.

-Eat all your favorite foods, but in moderation.  Have a smaller slice of cake, along with some healthy fruit.

-Eat slowly and stop when you feel satisfied!

-Alcoholic drinks should be limited to prevent overindulgence. Create a plan and stick to it to keep these extra calories in check.

Myth #2: Saving my calories for the big feast will keep my waistline slim and trim.

Do you have a pre-holiday crash diet “cleanse,” or skip meals before a big holiday party so you can eat without guilt?  You’re only setting yourself up for defeat!  You’ll end up starving by the time the main meal comes, and overindulge!   This roller coaster style of eating will eventually lead to further ups and downs in your eating patterns throughout the year, leading to weight gain.

Celebrate Change:

-Eat sensibly throughout the year, especially pre-holiday party, and you won’t feel the need to binge.

-Eat smaller portions in order to feel satisfied without feeling bloated.

-Eat a healthy snack with some protein before you arrive to the party such as ½ ham sandwich on sandwich thin or Greek yogurt.

-Many holiday parties offer fruits and vegetables so load up.

-Allow yourself to enjoy a small plate of your favorite holiday treat.  It’s a special-time-of-year treat, so enjoy it…without the guilt!

Myth #3: My family won’t enjoy a “trimmed-down” holiday menu.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that more is better when it comes to entertaining,

this certainly applies to the holidays. Make your choices based not on quantity but on

quality to encourage you and your guests to live healthy, without sacrificing flavor or


Celebrate Change:

-Make lower calorie versions of family favorites.  Our secret!

-Buy lean cuts of meat for you and your guests such as lean ham or turkey.

-Bake, sauté, grill or broil rather than fry.

-Buy low-fat options for yogurt, milk, and cream cheese for your recipes.

-Offer fiber-filled and nutrient-rich whole grains over white.

-Offer at least one healthy dessert alternative like a berry crumble, and cut the desserts into smaller portions.

Myth #4: I’ll feel better if I forego my morning workout to spend time with family instead.

Don’t use the holidays and time with family as an excuse to become a couch potato.  There are always fun alternatives to the usual exercise routine that can become a family affair.

Celebrate Change:

-Take a walk with family/friends before and/or after the big meal.  Walk at a pace that

works for everyone.

-Start up a touch football game in the backyard.

-Put on some holiday music and start dancing!

-Wake up early to sneak in an AM sweat session before the holiday events.

-Watch some football on TV and do crunches during commercials.

Myth #5: The holidays are all about the FOOD!

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that a holiday just isn’t complete without an abundance of food on hand! Make the change to think differently about the role of food in your celebrations.  Don’t make food the centerpiece of the festivities but rather an enjoyable adjunct to them. Put family and friends at the center of your holiday…not the feast!

Celebrate Change:

-Avoid the desire to have food on hand 24/7, before and after dinner. You and your family will only fill up on these tempting snacks without realizing the calories racking up.

-Switch the focus from food to games/music/activities!  People who are busy doing, aren’t mindlessly eating. Break out the deck of cards, start a game of charades, or spend time laughing about your favorite holiday memories!

Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

Reprinted courtesy of 435 South magazine

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