Join Now

Exercising Values

Happy, Healthy, Kind, & Considerate Kids

Stop Holiday Weight Gain While Enjoying your Family and Friends

diet fat loss fitness fun goals habits holidays nutrition weight loss

I have a few holiday parties to attend this weekend and frankly it takes forethought to not over-indulge in the abundant provision that characterizes these events. Avoiding holiday weight gain while enjoying your family and friends is the goal. I'm here to help while acknowledging that it isn't easy.

Little changes in your holiday eating habits won't take away your fun but they will take away inches from your waistline. Even more importantly, they will model behavior for your children that will help them stay fit for a life time. If you will implement these six ideas, they will help you navigate through the holiday temptations and stay lean this season.

1. Choose the smallest plate available and then only fill it half to three quarters full. Portion control allows you to eat the foods you truly love while discouraging you from over indulging and from filling your plate with items you could just as easily skip. You can even go back a second time with this method and still end up with less than a regular sized plate. You'll feel like you are really letting loose but the truth is you won't leave stuffed and regretful.

2. Prefer protein. Protein will help to keep your insulin from spiking the way it would on sugary carbs alone. It will stimulate the release of glucagon which helps prevent fat storage. Some events are family affairs. If your children accompany you, teach them which foods are protein rich. Remind them that fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy and delicious. Steer clear of processed foods and empty calories and explain to your children why you are doing so.

3. Drink up but make it water. You can stack up an enormous about of calories if you choose alcohol, soft drinks, egg nog, or even juices. A glass of water before a party will increase your ability to avoid tempting but worthless sweets and other calorie rich items such as dips or chips. There is a wise old saying to eat your fruits and drink your vegetables. If water just isn't enough try vegetable juice over fruit juice. If you do decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Alcohol essentially shuts down your body's ability to burn fat and lowers resistance making you more likely to eat or drink to excess. You will consume more and burn less if alcohol is part of the evening.

4. Eat throughout the day. The practice of starving yourself in order to "save" for a party is counter-productive and will likely only result in weight gain as your hunger drives you to eat more than usual. Research shows that women who are older are particularly likely to store excess calories as fat and then not be able to lose them whereas smaller amounts are processed just as they were when they were younger. Spread your consumption over the day for better results.

5. Socialize. Not only might you make a new friend but you'll be less focused on the food. Teach your children to do the same by asking questions about the people that met at a party instead of asking about the birthday cake or whatever.

6. Enjoy to the max what you do choose to eat. In the long run, a few well chosen treats are not going to hurt you or your children. It's what we eat day to day that has the biggest impact. A holiDAY is no big deal; a holi2MONTHS is. I know people who drink a protein shake before they go to their mother's Thanksgiving dinner. They look great but I still think it's kind of sad.

Only you know what your limits are. If indulging at Thanksgiving has caused you to continue over-eating then stop now. It's not too late. If depriving yourself at Thanksgiving left you sad and depressed and set you up for a rebound feast later then now is the time to regain control.

Bottom line: know yourself. You've been managing your weight successfully or not for a long time. Maybe make your own list of what you personally know has worked for you in the past and a list of things to avoid because you know they have harmed you in the past. Be your own best friend and think. Don't just wander through the holidays from buffet to buffet as though you had no say in the matter. And remember there are generations following you. Habits learned in childhood are hard to change so give your children the gift of healthy holiday choices for them to emulate.

As the holidays get busy don't forget to fit in quality time with your children while getting in your own workouts. My book Exercising Values, is a handbook for raising fit, well-behaved children year round, including during the holidays. This program is suitable for busy parents to fit in quality time with their children while getting in their own workout. Home educating parents can use it as their physical education program with integrated character training and literature education as they begin the second part of the school year. Moms will find the support they need to stay stress-free during this busy time of the year. The short workouts in the book will help you keep fit while passing on this legacy to your children.

Two of my six children are spending the holidays away from home for the first time this year. Both in their early twenties, they are ready for a Eurorail adventure that begins in the United Kingdom. I told them to take a good look at Hyde park, the venue for the 2012 Olympic triathlon. I'm glad they brought their running shoes and glad they get to share this adventure as brothers. While your children are young, create the adventure of family togetherness, fitness and learning. Give them a foundation of good character and then you can confidently launch them into the world. Happy holidays.

Join Our Community

And stay connected with free news and updates!

Receive a short weekly newsletter with only the best parenting inspiration, advice, and techniques designed to help you raise happy, healthy, well-behaved children.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

About the Author

Pamela Davenport


For decades I have helped countless parents and their children overcome significant obstacles. My unique accomplishments in the fields of child development, health, and fitness have given me an unparalleled perspective and expertise that I would love to share with you.

  • Award-Winning Author and Parenting Coach
  • Mother of six and grandmother of five
  • Studied Juvenile Justice at Stanford University
  • Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Experienced family counselor
  • Support group leader for struggling parents
  • Taught health at the university level
  • Program manager for the personal training programs at two colleges
  • Personal Trainer helping people lose 5lb-100lb+
  • Two-time Ironman Triathlete and competing member of team USA
  •  UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award 2017