Avoid Holiday Weight Gain by Snacking Smarter This Season

November 30, 2021

A charcuterie board‘Tis the season for snacking and celebrating, but nobody wants to kick off the new year hoping to lose extra weight gained during the holidays. Rest assured, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the season without sacrificing food and fun. Being prepared to swap in smart substitutes will help you successfully outmaneuver even the season’s biggest temptations.

“During the holidays, do as you do on a daily basis: eat in moderation and keep portion sizes of different food groups in mind,” says South Texas Health System Clinical Dietitian Cinthia Duenez, RDN, LDN.

She adds moderation is key — not only for the holidays, but at all times of the year.

Guilt-Free Options

If you are determined to stick with your food plan, Duenez shares some guilt-free choices to help keep you on track.

Instead of


Potato chips Baked tortilla chips and salsa or flavored rice cakes
Fried or greasy appetizers High-protein options like shrimp cocktail, baked chicken skewers or smoked salmon
Heavy desserts A small serving of dark chocolate, which is loaded with antioxidants, along with a handful of nuts, like walnuts or almonds
Cream-based cheesy dips Fresh vegetables dipped in low-fat Greek yogurt or hummus
Pasta or potato salad Green salad with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Cookies Whole or fresh-cut fruit
Soda Flavored, sugarless seltzer water

Have a Game Plan in Place

Before you head out to enjoy holiday happenings, plan your days accordingly. Here are some tips and recommendations to help breeze through this busy time of year.

  • Get up earlier in the morning to go for a brisk walk or get an early session in at the gym
  • Don’t skip meals to save up calories for later in the day, but eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar steady
  • Focus on the quality time with family and friends instead of food
  • If you plan to have dessert, skip the potatoes and bread during the meal
  • Plan to bring along a healthy, guilt-free dish for all to enjoy
  • If there is a buffet, start with a salad or vegetables to fill up on fiber
  • Use a small plate for servings of your favorite food items
  • Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly
  • Sleep deprivation can lead to cravings for foods high in fat and sugar, so aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night
  • Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite food that you only eat once or twice a year; just eat a smaller portion and savor it

While making healthy swaps can help ensure you remain energized for all the holiday festivities, Duenez says there is no need to stress if you do overindulge.

“The most important thing is to be able to enjoy the holidays with friends and family without worrying about calories or your weight,” she says. “Get back on track by sticking to your routine: moderate eating, portion size, stay hydrated, and continue with your regular physical activity.”