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Holiday Season Hacks: Try These Tips to Help You Avoid Weight Gain

Apple pie, freshly baked cookies, mashed potatoes, gravy and Mom’s famous hot dish: Is your mouth watering with excitement for the holiday season?

The holiday season is known for its delicious comfort foods that we’ve been waiting for all year. With all the amazing food, you might think that not gaining weight is impossible. Wrong! You can enjoy all the specialties of the holiday season without gaining a pound and here’s how.

Remember balance. Enjoying special foods is one of the best parts of the season, but what causes weight gain is overdoing your portions. We all know the feeling of overeating and feeling sluggish the rest of the day, which is what we want to avoid.

According to a study done at the University of Oklahoma, weight increases in males and females by about 1 pound during the Thanksgiving holiday alone. According to Family Practice News, published by the International Medical News Group, men often gain more weight than women during the holiday season, some reaching an increase of 4½ pounds.

Weight gain can be avoided by being aware of how much you are eating. Understanding the importance of balancing your plate and enjoying holiday favorites in moderation is the best way to avoid weight gain. Lots of holiday dishes are high in calories, so taking smaller portions of the higher-calorie foods and filling up on the protein-dense foods, fruits and vegetables will ensure that you’re getting a balanced plate and not overconsuming foods extremely high in calories.

To avoid excess caloric intake, try these tips:

  • Try different variations of your favorite dishes.
  • Make your plate more colorful by adding a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Substituting certain ingredients to make a more healthful but still satisfying version of your favorite dish.


By Sierra Jones, Community Nutrition Intern, NDSU Extension

Reviewed by: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist





Brunk, D. (Nov. 15, 2010). Active adults may still gain weight during the holidays. Family Practice News, 40(19), 56. Retrieved from

Honey-glazed sweet potatoes. (May 15, 2014). Retrieved from

Hull, H.R., Radley, D., Dinger, M.K., and Fields, D.A. (2006). The effect of the Thanksgiving Holiday on weight gain. Nutrition Journal5, 29–6.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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