Holiday Survival Guide

It’s the time of year when people start asking questions about how to get through the holidays without “blowing it”. So, in preparation, we thought we’d bring you our first ever guide to surviving the holidays!

First, let us assure you that things may not be as bleak as they seem. A 2016 article in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals that the average weight gain due to holidays throughout the year in the US is approximately 0.8 kg or 1.8 lb. That being said, an earlier article from 2000 suggested that weight change was significantly greater in obese subjects who had previously lost weight than in control subjects with weight gain ranging from 2.2-6.1 kg or 4.8- 13.4 lb. While most people were able to lose half of that weight within the 10 days after Christmas, a large number were unable to lose the remaining half over the following months. If you can go into the holiday season with a goal to maintain your weight, and you reach that goal, consider it a win and keep moving forward in the new year.

With that in mind, being prepared going into the holiday season with parties and family gatherings, is going to be a key part of your success.

Now onto the “3 P’s for surviving the holidays”.

PLAN – So the first thing is to make sure you are planning your meals. If you are invited to someone’s home, ask what is on the menu. If you know the choices are going to be limited, eat before you go so you are less tempted to overindulge and then focus on portion control rather than staying 100% on plan. One meal is not going to ruin all your efforts and you can simply get right back on track the next day.

If you are meeting up at a restaurant, review the menu online before you go. Have something picked out so that you’re not trying to make a last minute decision and feeling like a “deer in the headlights” when everyone else has ordered and you’re still sitting there perusing the menu. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Even if something is not specifically the way you want it on a menu, ask for it. If they can do you some grilled meat and a side of green vegetables and that is what you want, ask for it. We have never been refused service not told by a server that we can’t get what we asked for. Remember, you are the customer and they want your business.

If you have to go to a potluck, never ask “what can I bring”. Inevitably someone will ask you to bring a dessert! Make something you know you can eat. Devilled eggs are always a great choice as is a small charcuterie plate with meats and cheeses. Even though this is a higher fat/salt option, it is still a better choice than sandwiches, desserts or pasta dishes.

PLAN – the next item on our list is to make sure you are planning your activity/exercise. In fact, this might be the perfect time of year for you to start exercising if it’s not something that is part of your current routine. A lot of people have a little extra time off over the holidays, why not use that to start a new exercise plan? Maybe you have been wishing for a new pair of walking or running shoes, new work out clothing, or a piece of equipment to use at home. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It might be as simple as a set of resistance bands or a jump rope. Anything to get you started!

We have been married for over 20 years now and there is not one Christmas morning that we have not gotten up and done our usual workout routine. My husband has run every year, regardless of the weather or where we find ourselves staying for the holidays. A habit is a habit, regardless of the circumstance in which you find yourself.

The key to incorporating exercise is to make it fun. If it’s something you don’t enjoy, how likely are you to keep doing it?

PLAN – finally, plan to spend time with those you love. The holidays are about friends and family. Plan to spend time with them. Relax, recharge, refresh. Remember why you are on a journey not just to weight loss, but to better health. Beyond just doing it for yourself, you have people who love you, who want to spend time with you and who want to see you be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be. After all, if we truly love those around us, don’t we want the best for them? Carve out some time for those people, try to resist the urge to rush through the holidays and end up feeling more depleted than when you started. Time with friends and family doesn’t always have to centre around food although the holidays have become synonymous with overindulgence. Sit together, tell stories, laugh together and simply enjoy the company of one another.

Happy holidays to all from your crew at MD Weight Loss! We are wishing you all the best and success into 2022! If you liked this post and want to know more, sign up for our website. There is no obligation and you can cancel anytime!


N Engl J Med 2016; 375:1200-1202 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1602012

N Engl J Med 2000; 342:861-867 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200003233421206

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