2009-12-24 / Features

Holiday Survival Guide For Those Watching Their Weight

So many of us anticipate the holidays with great excitement - the merry decorations, relaxing with family and friends and the excitement of the coming new year. However, many of us also don’t look forward to navigating cocktail parties and the possible weight gain that may be a result of too many holiday feasts.

“The holidays are a difficult time for many who are trying to manage weight,” says Elizabeth Josefsberg, Weight Watchers leader. “Some of us find it challenging to break out of normal routines and find the balance between enjoying one's self without over indulging. Many of our meetings members and Weight Watchers Online subscribers know how to still enjoy time with family and friends and enjoy their favorite holiday dishes without fearing holiday weight gain.”

Weight Watchers offers the following suggestions for celebrating and enjoying this holiday season while not derailing one's healthy habits.

Pre-party planning:

No matter how busy you are during the holidays, make time for activity every day. Whether you walk around your neighborhood or spend an extra hour walking in the mall, physical exercise will help burn off the extra calories you may consume during the holiday season.

Most holiday parties are held in the evening when everyone is tired and hungry. If you’re hungry, you'll be more tempted to overeat, so have a healthful, filling snack like a banana, hardboiled egg or small bag of light popcorn before the party to help prevent feeling famished when you're facing the tables full of high-calorie goodies.

Wear something fitted and you’ll be reminded not to overindulge. Also, wearing an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry that you bought yourself as a reward for reaching a previous weight-loss goal can remind you of how much weight loss you've already achieved and how good it feels to be in control of your weight.

In the “danger” zone:

The season is really all about sharing time with people you love. So when you arrive at the party – or the guests have all arrived at your house – make people the priority and socialize before you eat. Catching up with friends and family, instead of standing by the buffet table, helps you stay away from the food.

It’s tempting to graze your way through tables laden with appetizers, traditional holiday dishes and yummy desserts, but doing so makes it hard to manage how much you're actually eating. Instead of grazing, make yourself a plate – use a small plate or napkin so that you won’t be tempted or able to overload – fill it with a few favorites and some guilt-free fillers, and then walk away from the food.

Alcohol adds empty calories and may encourage you to overeat. Reduce your alcohol consumption by sipping low calorie beverages. Or, alternate alcoholic drinks with low-calorie or calorie-free soft drinks or water. Even better – skip the empty calories altogether and have a few more bites of your favorite foods instead.

Keep things in perspective. You can eat cheese and crackers any time of year. Save your calorie allotment for foods you really love that you can’t get at any other time of year. Spend your calories indulging in beloved holiday fare, but avoid snacks that could trigger overeating like nuts and cookies.

When the party is over:

Remember that the holidays aren't all about food. Find other holiday activities that keep you in the spirit of the season, like caroling, funny holiday movies or volunteering at your local food bank.

Facing a week of multiple parties? Compensate for the extra food with extra exercise that will help burn off those excess calories.

If you overindulged, forgive yourself, learn the lesson and move on. Don’t beat yourself up during one of the most tempting times of year. “What’s most important is that you not use this as an excuse to never get back on the horse,” Josefsberg says. “The holiday season is just two months each year and even if you overindulge more than once during the holidays, you still have the rest of the year to make better choices.”

Try this delicious recipe that’s great for holiday parties and great for your waistline.

Chocolate Marshmallow Bark

A sweet treat for all your holiday gatherings, the name "bark" sounds fancy but this candy barlike treat couldn't be easier to make.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finest quality recommended

2 teaspoons butter

3 cups puffed mini marshmallows

Line a 9-by-9 inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows. Scrape chocolate mixture into prepared pan using a silicon spatula. Smooth into a somewhat even layer. Refrigerate until chocolate sets, at least one hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. Cut into 12 pieces and serve.

Return to top