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Seasonal Diet Tips

Explore our expert knowledge on topics such as healthy eating during the holidays, and how to live into a happier and healthier you in the New Year. Discover tips and tricks on how to avoid weight gain at holiday parties and while on vacation.

7 Holiday Weight Loss Mistakes

Stressed about unraveling weight loss efforts during the holidays? Defeat the often anticipated holiday weight gain once and for all by avoiding these common weight loss mistakes.

7 Holiday Weight Loss Mistakes


The thought of "feasting" during the holidays may spark excitement in some. But it may also lead to anxiety in others.

All of the hard work to lose weight paired with all of the tempting foods during the holidays often raises the concern of unraveling efforts during that weight loss journey.

But by identifying these common mistakes, defeat the often anticipated holiday weight gain once and for all!

Weight Loss Mistakes During the Holidays

Common weight loss mistakes around the holidays often include:

1. Skipping Out on Breakfast

2. Avoiding Hunger

3. Enjoying Foods Too Quickly

4. Drinking Calories

5. Letting Stress Get the Best of You

6. Using Holidays as an Excuse to Overeat

7. Cutting Out or Reducing Exercise

1. Skipping Out on Breakfast

Confirming breakfast as "the most important meal of the day" varies between people and their lifestyle. However, skipping out on that morning meal can certainly be a holiday weight loss mistake.

There is a reason to believe skipping meals can save room for the holiday feast later on in the day. However, eating a balanced breakfast helps control hunger and blood sugars and lowers the risk of overeating at the main event.

Ideally, breakfast should be rich in lean protein and fiber. Including a healthy fat source can also increase satiety. Quick and make-ahead high-protein breakfast ideas include:

• Egg wraps filled with desired toppings, including cheese and spinach.

• Greek yogurt parfaits topped with fresh berries, sliced almonds, nuts, and seeds.

• Quinoa bowls with sweet and savory options.

• Mini egg frittatas packing favorite omelet flavors.

• High-protein smoothies featuring chocolaty and fruity options.

2. Avoiding Hunger

Just like skipping breakfast, avoiding hunger to save on calories per day is a common weight loss mistake during the holidays. But trying to suppress a true appetite can only make matters worse and lead to eventual overeating.

Ease those pesky hunger pangs with a nutritious snack. Easy and healthy snack ideas for the holiday season may include:

• Mixed nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds.

• An apple with peanut, almond, or another nut butter.

• Carrot sticks with hummus.

• Turkey slices with string cheese.

• Lightly salted edamame.

• Greek yogurt with berries.

• Fat-free chocolate milk.

3. Enjoying Foods Too Quickly

Eating too quickly can contribute to weight gain during all seasons. But during the holidays, all those holiday favorites may welcome the urge to feast even more.

When enjoying and savoring foods at a slow, consistent pace, most individuals will start to feel full. But if food is consumed too quickly, feeling full is unlikely.

Simply slowing down can allow hunger and satiety hormones to work together. Because, on average, it takes 20 minutes for the brain and stomach to signal the "I'm getting full!" and cease food intake.

To slow down while eating, chew foods thoroughly and drink water before and with meals. Setting the fork down between each bite can also slow down the eating process.

4. Drinking Calories

It is common for individuals to forget about calories contained in drinks and, unfortunately, they can add up quickly! So in addition to the meal itself, watch out for liquid calories.

Limit liquid calories during the holidays with these simple tips:

• Increase water intake to at least 64 ounces daily, as water will always be the preferred hydration source.

• If craving a soft drink, try to limit intake to one or offer flavor to water. Use flavor enhancers such as freshly squeezed lemon.

• Sip on black coffee rather than a cup laden in sugar and cream. Also learn how to order healthy holiday drinks at Starbucks®.

• Moderate alcohol intake and choose no to low-sugar mixers such as seltzer water. Women and men should limit alcohol to one and two servings daily, respectively.

5. Letting Stress Get the Best of You

The thought of all the food or holiday weight gain weighing down on your shoulders? Worried about all the holiday-related tasks that need to be finished? Anxious to perfect the holiday party you host each year?

Not managing stress can actually lead to weight gain or at least stall progress. This is because cortisol is released in bouts of stress, which tends to heighten food cravings, store fuel as belly fat, and slow down metabolism. Stress can also lead to stress eating towards food high in fat and carbohydrate.

To lower such risks, be reasonable on holiday expectations first. Also practice stress stress-relieving techniques such as walking, dancing, listening to favorite music, and reading. All-in-all, allow yourself to break from the holiday hustle and bustle and devote time for self-care.

6. Using Holidays as an Excuse to Overeat

People may see the holidays as an acceptable time to overindulge and binge. And with New Year's Eve just around the corner, claiming to start the diet next year pads more of a reason to indulge and feast in the moment.

Although the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, they should not be used as an excuse to overeat and binge at parties. Instead of using holidays as an excuse to feast, reconstruct the mindset by viewing this as a celebratory time filled with your loved ones.

And enjoy all of those tasty foods with them, practicing the concept of mindful eating and in moderated portions.

A tried and true method to ensure healthy eating, all while enjoying those seasonal favorites, includes these plating tips:

Fill half the meal plate with non-starchy vegetables. Roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and green beans are great in-season options.

Allocate one-quarter of the plate with 3 to 4 ounces of protein. This includes the Thanksgiving turkey, ham, or any sort of lean beef.

Use the remaining quarter for starch and complex carb. Examples include sweet potatoes, blended rice, or a dinner roll.

Complement the meal with a healthy fat source. Drizzle olive oil or add chopped pecans to a leafy side salad.

Feel free to add a small serving of fruit or sweet treat. When enjoying those seasonal treats, aim to stick to appropriate portion sizes.

7. Cutting Out or Reducing Exercise

Again, the holidays tend to be a time people let a little loose with their health and weight loss goals. Because, again, with New Years around the corner, they can start fresh with both diet and exercise.

While the holidays are a time to spend with loved ones, foregoing ambitions can lead to weight gain. This does not mean to stick to a rigorous workout routine per se, but continue fitting in some sort of activity.

Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the ultimate power duo to support long-term weight management. They can likewise be completed simultaneously and quickly with a full-body Tabata workout. And to mention, this high-intensity training shows to burn more calories even following the workout.

Beyond structured strength training and cardio, there are many ways one can keep active throughout the holidays such as:

• Starting the day with a light jog.

• Walking the dog around the neighborhood.

• Taking a family bike ride or hike on a nature trail.

• Parking further away from door entrances when holiday shopping.

Ultimately, the most importance is not how you choose to be active, just that you are!

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on July 30, 2017. Updated on November 26, 2019.

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