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How to Manage Your Weight During the Holidays: Less Stress for the Holidays, Part 1

Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. She enjoys helping people work towards healthier lives.

Let the Feasting Begin


Holiday Weight Gain Begins Now

You roll out of bed in early November, with a stomach ache and a headache. Ever since Halloween, you've been eating more sugar, struggling through the colder, darker mornings and feeling sluggish overall.

Trick or Treat is over. Now it's time to pay the piper. Stomach feeling bloated, your head aching from a late night with too much sugar, you decide to skip your morning workout and head into the office. It's too dark and chilly to think about working out.

Thankfully, some saint brought doughnuts to work, so your morning begins with a hot cup of black coffee and a sugary sweet treat. The caffeine and sugar work wonders and you feel instantly better.

At last, you busy yourself with work, feeling energized and slightly better from the caffeine in your system. By lunchtime, however, you're dragging. You feel drained and too tired to get up from your desk. The sugar and caffeine high has led to the inevitable crash. You're exhausted and your headache is back, stronger than ever.

Looking at the calendar, you realize that Thanksgiving is only a few short weeks away, with Christmas chasing on its heels. Holiday madness is beginning, and it's only the first of November.

It's not too soon to create a plan for maintaining your weight during the busy holiday season. Although you might prefer to lose weight during the holidays, it makes more sense to be realistic. Instead of losing weight, consider not gaining weight. Maintaining your current weight is a realistic goal.

Many people gain between 5-7 pounds during November and December, with an average gain of one pound that never goes away. Those pounds add up over the years, until you look in the mirror and see a much heavier version of yourself.

This article offers practical tip to help you stay healthy and maintain your weight during the holidays.

Holiday Weight Gain

Hydration Helps Control Cravings

Your body receives many benefits when you stay hydrated. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body. To maintain good health and to prevent weight gain, it's important you drink enough water every day.

Start your day with a glass of water. Before you eat breakfast or chug that first mug of coffee, pause and drink a glass of water. Drink a full glass. Make it part of your morning routine. Drink it down after you brush your teeth.

Often, when you think you need to eat, your body is actually thirsty. Before you snack, enjoy a glass of cold water. Not only will you stay hydrated, but you will also fill your tummy, and not feel as hungry. In addition, your body burns calories to warm cold water to body temperature.

Another reason to drink more water during the holiday season is that water has no calories. You can drink all you want, without gaining weight. The same cannot be said for other holiday beverages. From eggnog to punch, hot chocolate and wine, most beverages are loaded with calories. Calories add weight.

You don't have to completely avoid all social drinking. A smart strategy is to begin with a glass of water. Then, slowly sip your beverage of choice. About halfway through, drink another glass of water, before you finish your drink. Not only will you save calories, but you will save money too, if you're buying your own drinks!

For more information on the health benefits associated with drinking water, read the following article from Fitness Blender:

Getting & Staying Lean with Proper Hydration: How does Water Help with Weight Loss?

Why Water Matters

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Adequate Sleep Helps Maintain Healthy Weight

Getting adequate rest, especially during the holiday season, helps you maintain your weight.

Several studies indicate a link between obesity and inadequate sleep. In one study, participants slept only five hours, for five days. On average, participants gained nearly two pounds during the course of the study.

In addition, a lack of sleep increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been shown to increase appetite. Lack of sleep also impacts the production of hunger hormones, leading you to feel hungry.

Adequate sleep also helps increase self control. When you feel tired, it becomes harder to make good choices. Not only is this true for life in general, but especially during the holiday's, when tempting food choices abound.

In general, getting a good nights sleep helps you in several ways, as you try to maintain your health during the holidays. It helps you maintain self control and make good food choices, and it helps your body maintain hormone balance.

To find out more about how sleep can help your health, read the following article, from the Health line newsletter:

7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

Control Your Portion Size


Portion Size Matters for Weight Control

Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for gluttony. Without excuse, we revel in gorging ourselves to the point of pain and suffering. If you don't want to gain weight during the holidays, then it is wise to control your portion sizes.

Maintaining portion size is not only important at Thanksgiving, but also during the remainder of the holiday season. One large meal won't be the end of your weight maintenance strategy. Many large meals, treats and snacks over the course of two months will add pounds.

You don't need to deny yourself the pleasure of holiday goodies. Instead of completely avoiding things you love, consider limiting your intake.

Make cookies with the kids, enjoy the decorating and baking and creating. Then, plate up the cookies and deliver them to neighbors or take them to the office. Allow yourself, and your family, a few cookies, but don't feel obligated to eat every single one.

When indulging in a family feast, allow yourself small portions of the things you love. Don't feel obligated to eat things you don't like, and don't feel obligated to take seconds. You are in control of yourself. Drink a big glass of water a few minutes before the meal. Then enjoy a few spoonfuls of your favorites.

Wait a few minutes before you eat more and allow your food to settle. Visit with your friends and family. Drink some more water. Wait. There is no rush to gorge. The food will not disappear.

Get up, take a walk, then come back if you are still hungry. Listen to your body before you get so full you can't move.

While it's easy to fall into the habit of piling a mountain of food onto your plate, you can control your portions. When everyone else is stuffed full, you will feel good. When the holidays are over, and your friends and family are complaining about their weight gain, you can rest in the knowledge that you didn't gain an ounce.

Do You Usually Gain Weight During the Holidays?

You're Getting Fat! (Humor)

Kindness Matters

Finally, in your quest to maintain your health over the holiday's, remember to be kind to yourself. Kindness matters.

Everyday may not be perfect. Sometimes, you might eat too much. It's okay. It is not the end of the world. Drink some water, go to bed early, and start over the next day.

Try to make each day a little better than the day before. Don't beat yourself up for your mistakes. Instead, offer yourself a measure of grace. Extend the same compassion and kindness to yourself that you would offer to a dear friend. Treat yourself with kindness, no matter how many times you mess up.

Today, this moment, offers you another chance to begin again. Do not grow weary in doing good, but persist in your efforts. Small steps, taken with kindness will lead you to your goal. In the end, you will find peace. And that is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Be Kind. You do not Know the Struggles Everyone Else Endures

You Control You

In the end, you have complete control over yourself. You are not a victim of the holidays, or your Aunties pecan pie. You are not a victim of the world around you. You can control what you eat, how much you exercise, and how much you sleep. You are in complete control of yourself.

Don't allow yourself to fall into a victim mentality. Take control of your health and enjoy the holidays without feeling guilty. Indulge in small areas, and for the most part, make good choices. Above all, be kind to yourself and the people you love.

The love you give yourself reflects back, not only in how you feel, but in how you look, how you act and how you treat others. There is nothing more beautiful than a genuine smile.

Namaste, friends

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Deborah Demander


Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on November 13, 2017:

Thanks Lily,

When I saw that picture, things suddenly clicked into place for me. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on November 13, 2017:


I agree with you. If I don't put it in my mouth, then I won't be tempted to continue eating past fullness. My secret is not to even start eating junk. Once my mouth loves the taste, my brain begs for more.


Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on November 13, 2017:

Nell, Thanks so much for your comment. I agree, I'm already gaining weight from all the holiday goodies!

Thanks for reading and commenting and I hope you enjoy the holiday season!


Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 02, 2017:

All great tips. I loved the photo about serving size. It makes servings much more understandable than words like "1/2 Cup". Nice job!

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 01, 2017:

I get lots of sleep and drink plenty of water. Also, certain items are completely off-limits.

Nell Rose from England on November 01, 2017:

Hi, great advice and something I really really need! lol! luckily over here its just Christmas and no Thanksgiving but my stomach is expanding at a huge chocolate rate!!

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