Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: 10 Quick Tips plus 4 Festive Low-Fat Recipes

From the time the first mini-Snickers hits the kids’ plastic halloween pumpkins to the very last sip of bubbly on New Year’s Eve, it feels like the holidays are one long lesson in avoiding overindulgence.

And while it might not be super duper easy, here are a few strategies to help you avoid holiday weight gain. (Plus some lowfat recipes to help you celebrate the season.)

1. Think bite size. When you find something you must treat yourself to, give yourself a wee bit. Imagine the amount you’d be given at the grocery store on free sample day. Take that little bit and savor each and every morsel. Yum.

Instead of taking an entire slice of pie, split a portion with your kids and/or your spouse. Just try not to label any food as completely off limits. That’s sort of a recipe for disaster.

2. Remember that you won’t forever miss your chance to eat this food. Sometimes, we tend to think that this holiday food is “special food” and so we rationalize eating it because it is food that we won’t be able to eat at any other time of the year. And so we are more likely to not want to cheat ourselves out of this special food. We must partake so as not to feel sad about it the whole year through. It helps me when I can remind myself that I am an adult with my own kitchen and access to ingredients at the grocery store, which means that I can actually make that food anytime you want. The whole year through!

3. Plan ahead. Before you arrive at the party, fill up on foods that are low in calorie but protein-rich and high-fiber. Some ideas: lowfat cottage cheese and fruit, a few slices of turkey, or a garden salad sprinkled with nuts. You can even slam a Slim-Fast shake. Do whatever you have to do such that, when you arrive at the party, your ravenousness isn’t instantly faced with creme puffs and egg nog.

Again, when filling your plate at a party, make sure that most of your choices are lean protein or high fiber. You’ll fill up and won’t have as much room for other stuff.

4. Ditch the calorie-rich alcohol drinks (or have one and sip on it for awhile.) Drink sparkling water instead. We all know that alcohol is high in calories, but it can also make you want to eat more and it might make you less able to resist the allure of aforementioned crème puffs and egg nog.

5. Stay busy. Engage yourself in conversation, join or start a game, or go help the hostess. Try not to position yourself near the food.

6. Make a supreme effort to eat healthfully at home during this season. Make sure your grocery basket includes fresh fruits and veggies, including some of the amazing fall and winter bounty: pumpkins, an amazing array of apples, and squash, pomegranates.

7. Exercise. Keep your normal exercise routine. Even if you don’t normally exercise, make a point this season to at least get out and walk a little each day. You’ll feel better and less stressed. (Make sure to talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise program if you don’t currently have one.)

8. If you overindulge one day, don’t go and beat yourself up.
Just jump back on the wagon. Eat a healthy breakfast. Drink water. Take your daily walk. Know you’ll do better.

9. See your weight loss as part of a big picture.
You are treating your body well so that it serves you well for years to come – so that it has the energy it needs to do the things it needs to do and so that it feels good doing them. Part of treating your body well involves eating things you love – but not in quantities so large that it’s not good for your body.

10. Experiment with low-fat holiday recipes. Find some good, healthy appetizer or dessert dishes to bring to those potluck parties. That way, you know there will be at least one healthy item on the table.

Here are a few holiday recipes to enjoy:

Christmas Biscotti

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
¾ tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375degrees F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, molasses, sugar and oil. In a separate bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and combine, then mix into the egg mixture until the dough has a stiff consistency.

Divide the dough into two halves and roll each half into a roll the length of the biscotti. Place the two rolls onto the cookie sheets and pat down to ½ inch thickness. Place into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, then set aside to cool enough to touch.

When the rolls have cooled, cut them into ½ inch thick diagonal slices. Then place the biscotti back onto the cookie sheet and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until they are nice and crispy.

Cooked Pears with Spiced Syrup

Low Fat Low Sodium Recipe


2 cups water
2 cups sugar
12 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
3 pears, peeled


Pour the water into a large saucepan and place over low heat.  Stir in the sugar until dissolved.  Add the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Place the pears in the pan.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the pears and lay a plat on top of the pan.  This will keep the pears under the water so they will tender.  Cook over low heat 25 minutes or until the pears are fork tender.  Remove the pears and place on a plate.  Continue cooking the liquid another 20 minutes or until it becomes a syrup.  Strain the liquid to remove the peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Cut the pears half lengthwise and remove the seeds and core.  Slice the pear halves in quarter.  Spoon the syrup over the cut pears.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Values)

Number of Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1/2 pear with syrup

Per Serving
Calories 281
Carbohydrate 72 g
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 0 g
Sodium 1 mg

Orange Laced Apple Cider
Low Fat Recipe


6 cups apple cider
3 whole allspice berries
3 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 navel orange, peeled and quartered
1 navel orange, unpeeled, sliced


Place the cider in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the berries, cloves and cinnamon sticks.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Add the quartered orange.  Bring the mixture to a quick boil.  Once boiling reduce the heat to low.  Cook 7 minutes.  Pour the cider through a strainer being sure the berries, cloves, cinnamon sticks and oranges are removed.  Place the mugs in the microwave 30 seconds to warm. Pour the cider into the warm mugs and garnish with orange slices.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Values)

Number of Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1 mug

Per Serving
Calories 151
Carbohydrate 38 g
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 1 g
Sodium 8 mg

Vegetable Medley with Vinegar Salsa

Low Fat and Low Carb Recipe


3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped very fine
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons white onions, chopped very fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons low carb breadcrumbs, toasted
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound small green beans, blanched
3/4 pound small new potatoes, boiled and cut into wedges
3/4 pound small beets, cooked and cut into wedges


Place the parsley, capers, onions and garlic into a large mixing bowl.  Pour in the vinegar and olive oil.  Mix together well to combine all the ingredients.  Add the bread crumbs and mix until completely moist.  Sprinkle in the black pepper and stir to incorporate.  Place the bean, potatoes and beets on a plate.  Cover the vegetables with the sauce completely before serving.

Nutritional Information (Approximate Value)

Number of Servings: 6

Per Serving
Calories 170
Carbohydrate 19 g
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Fiber 4 g
Protein 4 g
Sodium 232 mg