Have a Healthy, Happy Holiday Season

Maggie Perkins, RD, LDN – Nutrition Health Educator

On average, Americans gain one to two pounds during the holiday season. This may not seem like a lot of weight, but if the extra pounds are not eventually lost, they can accumulate over time. For example, if a 50-year old person gained two pounds every holiday season since the age of 20, that person would have gained 60 pounds of extra weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and some types of cancer.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average Thanksgiving meal is 3,000 calories, which is approximately 1,000 more calories than most people need in an entire day! Here are some tips to help prevent weight gain during the holidays.


Be mindful. Eat slowly! Enjoy your surroundings and the food you are eating. Take time to talk with your loved ones while you are gathered around the table.

myplateRemember the MyPlate.  There is often an abundance of food choices at holiday meals. Before you make your plate, check out the selections and plan which foods you really want to eat and which you could do without. Create a balance meal with selections from of all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

Avoid drinking calories. Save your calories for the feast. Pick calorie-free beverages, such as water, seltzer water with lemon, and diet drinks. Try to avoid regular sodas and juices. If you would like to drink alcohol, then do so in moderation, which is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Do not linger over the food table.  The food table is often the place for people to gather and talk.  This often leads to grazing mindlessly or filling another plate.  Fill your plate once and suggest taking the conversation to a different location.

Have fun with physical activities.  Throw a football or go on a walk. Try to burn some extra calories to balance the large meal.

Keep a food journal.  There are a lot of useful apps to track foods or you can do it with paper and pencil. People are likely to eat less if they track what they are eating.

Bring a healthy choice to the party.  If your holiday get together is a potluck, make sure to bring a healthy choice. Bring a fall fruit salad or a roasted veggie dish.

Keep in mind that every little healthy change makes a difference.  Any way that you can cut calories or get extra physical activity over the holidays will make a difference. Do the best you can and have fun with your healthy, holiday season!

Balanced Holiday Meal
Click the image to watch a video about creating a balanced holiday meal, including portion sizes.














Tgiving meal 2
Create a healthful holiday plate with these great recipes.



US National Library of Medicine.  National Institutes of Health.  A prospective study of holiday weight gain.

American Council on Exercise.  Hard to Believe: Average Thanksgiving Meal Equals 3,000 Calories and 229 Grams of Fat.