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Life in Motion

Four Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Health & Prevention

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season almost upon us, many of us are looking forward to spending time with family and friends and enjoying delicious meals and desserts. While this time of the year can bring lots of joy, it can also bring the dreaded holiday weight gain. According to the American Dietetics Association, on average, Americans gain about two pounds over the holiday season (Weight Watchers says 7-10lb!). While this may not seem like much, this weight typically sticks and will accumulate over time.

Weight can impact your health in many ways, including the health of your bones and joints. When a person is even slightly overweight, it can add stress to their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. For example, every pound of weight gained puts an extra three to five pounds of pressure on knee joints.

Elle Wittneben, RD, CSOWM, LDN, offers the following advice to keep you on track and avoid putting on extra pounds this holiday season.

  1. If you are headed to a party, bring a healthy dish to share with friends and family to provide a menu option you know is enjoyable and nutritious. See below for a festive winter salad recipe.
  2. Limit the alcohol. Most alcoholic holiday drinks are full of empty calories, sugar, and fat. If drinking, do so in moderation and choose simple drinks made with club soda or fresh fruit for flavoring. Be mindful, alcohol also lowers inhibitions which can often result in overeating and unhealthy selections.
  3. Select healthy options first, and then scope out your favorites. Fill half of your plate with salad, fruits and vegetables – then add appropriate portion sizes of your favorite holiday foods to your plate.
  4. Exercise to start the day right. Although you are busy with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, don’t forget to maintain your exercise routine. Exercise in the morning to help set the pace of healthy behavior for the day. If you do not currently have an exercise routine, consider taking walks after meals with the family, which can aid in digestion, boost post-turkey energy, burn calories, and keep you away from the dessert table!

Don’t forget to relax and enjoy the holiday season!

Festive Winter Salad

  • 3 cups greens of choice: spring mix, spinach, chopped romaine, or chopped kale
  • 1/3 cup cheese of choice: crumbled blue cheese, gorgonzola, goat, feta, parmesan
  • 1/3 cup chopped and dry roasted nut of choice: walnuts, pecans, pistachios
  • 1 orange or grapefruit, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Optional: 1/4 thinly sliced red onion, 1 cubed avocado
  • Dress with a light, vinegar-based dressing


Add ingredients to a large bowl in order of listing. Depending on the number of guests attending, you may choose to double or triple the recipe!

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