Make a plan to stay healthy during the holidays


The holidays are an occasion to celebrate with family and friends, but they’re also a time for many people to overindulge. The period between Halloween and New Year's are high-calorie months.

Vijaya Surampudi, MD, an endocrinologist and assistant director of the UCLA Weight Management program, explained why so many people tend to gain weight around the holidays.

“It’s hard to say no when you’re in that situation and you want to celebrate with everyone,” Dr. Surampudi said. “Nobody wants to be, like, ‘I’m just going to eat this carrot.’”

Portion control, she said, often is the greatest challenge.

Remedies for holiday weight management

Holiday office parties and family gatherings often mean an abundance of carb-heavy foods and sugary cakes and pastries.

Dr. Surampudi offered a tip to curtail your desire to overeat during those holiday functions.

“My best advice is to make sure you curb your appetite before you go to the party,” she said. “I recommend that people eat a healthy snack before going to a function so they don’t feel the need to overeat the foods that are being served.

“Eating something high in protein is going to keep you full longer and make you less inclined to load up your plate with sweets. Foods like nuts are good because of the good fats and protein content,” Dr. Surampudi said. “Also, drinking water before you go will help you feel full.”


Other tips for controlling winter weight gain

Avoid holiday coffee drinks, Dr. Surampudi suggests. They are filled with added sugar and contribute to weight gain. If you do drink them, limit the quantity.

Cocktails also contribute to holiday weight gain. Alcohol is high in calories and mixers to make cocktails are high in sugar. Dr. Surampudi suggests less-caloric spritzers as an alternative.

“When it comes to alcohol, wine or champagne are better options than beer and spirits,” Dr. Surampudi said. “You can still feel like you’re participating without cutting out alcohol completely.”

Continue to exercise consistently during the holidays

Keeping up with your exercise routine during the holidays also will help to keep your weight in check. Still, nutrition remains the most important factor.

“You can’t out-exercise poor food choices,” said Dr. Surampudi. “But studies show that when you exercise, you tend to make better choices. You may be hungry after you finish working out, but you tend to gravitate toward foods that are more nutritious and beneficial for your body.”

Find out more about nutrition and exercise.