Most Americans pack on at least one pound during the holiday season, which doesn’t seem like a lot. But, the problem is many people never lose that pound and it adds up every year. Prevent weight gain this holiday by switching your mindset, using smaller dishes, and remembering what the season is all about – being thankful.

Here’s your Holiday Survival Guide to maintaining your weight.

1. Don’t skip meals

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

You may think saving up calories for later is a good way to keep your weight in check, but this strategy often backfires. If you show up starving to the big meal, you’re likely to overeat – and not on the healthy stuff. Instead, eat a healthy breakfast of lean protein and fiber and if you’re hungry in between snack on fruits and raw veggies. And don’t forget water, which fills you up without any calories.

2. Eat a balanced plate

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Even though you’re eating different foods than you normally eat, you can still aim for a balanced plate at your holiday meal. Fill half of your plate with salad and roasted vegetables and take a smaller portion of the mashed potatoes. Remember that one cup of rice or pasta has about 200 calories but a cup of vegetables has only about 40 calories.

3. Slow down

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It’s a holiday. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to be anywhere to be (hopefully!), so enjoy it. Take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. Set your fork down and take a sip of water between bites. Savor the aromas and flavors of the food and enjoy the dinner conversation. By slowing down, you’ll allow yourself to fill up on one plate of food instead of scarfing down your plate and heading to get seconds.

4. Use smaller dishes

Small Plates

Eat your holiday meal on your salad plate. This will force you to take smaller portions of each dish, which will decrease your overall calorie intake. Don’t forget to switch up your glasses too – choose a big, tall glass for water and a small glass for alcohol.

5. Adjust the variety

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Did you know that the more variety you have in front of you the more you will eat? You may have experienced this at a buffet. It’s great news when it comes to vegetables but a disaster when it comes to dessert. Consider increasing the number of vegetable dishes you make this year and cutting back on the number of desserts and simple starch meals like mac n cheese, potatoes, stuffing, and bread.

6. Shift your goals

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

While your long-term goal might be to lose weight, strive for weight maintenance instead during the holidays. Since you won’t have the same schedule and eating patterns as you normally do, it’s not realistic to have the same goals you normally have. It can be stressful trying to lose weight during the holidays and the frustration might lead you to give up all together. You’ll be ahead of many people if you can prevent weight gain.

7. Make family activities about activity

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

During the holidays, family activities mostly revolve around food. Take advantage of the extra time you have off of work and plan a family activity that actually involves activity like going on a walk, going ice skating, or playing football in the yard. While it won’t entirely balance out the calories you ate, it can help you prevent weight gain.

8. Remember it’s just one day

Be present

Breathe. And remember that the hoilidays roll around just once a year. Eat, enjoy it, and don’t feel guilty about it. When you start to feel guilty, you shift back into a dieting mentality and not into a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle allows you to indulge for one day, get back on track at the next meal, and ramp up the exercise for the following week.

Happy Holidays!


Written by Rise Coach Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, LDN.lainey younkin Lainey’s areas of expertise are weight management, heart health (managing cholesterol, blood pressure, & stress), diabetes and general wellness for a healthy lifestyle. She’s also a runner, chocolate-lover and fashionista. Learn more about Lainey and how to work with her here.