How Much Weight Can You Actually Gain During The Holidays?

This post was written by Emily Rubin, RD, a Clinical Dietitian in the Jefferson Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

While it may seem like you’ve put on ten pounds after a weekend of indulging at holiday parties, the average weight gain is actually only one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The holiday season is only a four week period, and only five days per year. What matters is what you do for the other 48 weeks. After the holidays, bounce back to your normal healthy lifestyle to lose the couple pounds you may have put on. If not, that could result in a 10-20 pound weight gain over the course of 10 years.

The average calories for a holiday dinner could be 2,700 – 3,000…at one sitting. Keep in mind 3,500 calories equals one pound. The trick here isn’t to try and “diet” during the holidays. Portion control is key—it isn’t what you eat, it’s how much.

Read on for our top tips for maintaining a healthy mindset and diet during the holidays.

  1. Don’t starve or fast all day. “Saving” your calories for dinner is the perfect way to overeat once you finally allow yourself to eat. Instead, eat small meals or snacks with protein and fiber, like a green salad with grilled chicken, hardboiled eggs, fruit with low fat cheese, nuts or Greek yogurt.
  2. Portion control your favorite foods. It’s the holidays so no one should be denying themselves a slice of pie or a cupcake. Eat small portions of your favorite calorie foods, or eat one serving of a high-calorie favorite, and then pack away another to indulge in the next day.
  3. Eat mindfully. Take your time to eat slowly, enjoying every bite of your food. Remember it takes 20 minutes to feel full. Fill your plate with the foods you really want to eat, and stop when you’re full, even if there is still food on the plate.
  4. Stay active. If exercising is a part of your daily routine, make the time to exercise during the day, or loop your arm around your cousin you need to catch up with and take a walk after dinner around the block (a great idea to help you digest your food comfortably!).
  5. Bring your own. Worried your options for a healthy side dish or dessert will be limited? Bring your own! Toss together a colorful winter salad with hearty greens, or bring a dessert with some smart swaps, like a low-fat graham cracker crust or low-fat whipped topping. Click here for my Guiltless Cannoli Dip.

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