1. Never Arrive Hungry

New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. “Don’t go to a party when you’re starving,” she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.

2. Bring Your Own Treats

Whether you’re going to a friend’s party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you’ll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.

3. Be active with family and friends

Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching TV, are common holiday traditions for many families. Inactivity may contribute to weight gain, especially if accompanied by overeating. Doing some type of physical activity with your family may prove beneficial for weight control. Even something as simple as a family walk can get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.

4. Keep meals balanced with protein

Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs but low in protein. However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance. In fact, eating protein with meals may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite. Protein is also beneficial for weight control because it increases your metabolism and levels of appetite-reducing hormones. For these weight-management benefits, you should include at least 1 ounce (25–30 grams) of protein in each meal. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, and some plant foods like beans and quinoa.

5. Modify your recipes

High-calorie homemade goods are a primary cause of weight gain during the holidays. However, you can lower the calorie content of recipes in many ways. Here are a few ideas:

 

Baking

  • Replace butter with applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin puree.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie substitute such as stevia, erythritol, or xylitol.
  • Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies.

Cooking

  • Flavor dishes with herbs and spices instead of butter.
  • Use cooking methods like baking, steaming, or grilling instead of frying.

Beverages

  • Flavor your treats with extracts like vanilla, almond, and peppermint instead of butter and sugar.
  • Use club soda or sparkling water in place of sweetened beverages.
  • Flavor drinks with freshly squeezed lemon or lime rather than sugar.
  • Cinnamon can also add flavor to holiday-themed beverages.