5 Worst Ways to Derail Holiday Health: Try These Tips to Stick to Your Weight-management Plan

Girl jogging holiday healthBy Sonia Humphrey, MD

It seems inevitable to most people: You will gain weight during the holidays. It’s a season that offers plenty of opportunities to indulge in fattening food while at the same time offers challenges to physical activity.

But this can be the year you don’t gain weight during the holidays. To combat common self-sabotage thoughts listed below, try these strategies to overcome:

1. The holidays are a break from my weight-loss plan.

We call this “all or nothing” thinking. You can avoid this trap by planning small portions of your favorite “only come around once a year” foods. Pick your absolute favorites and have a small amount. Use tricks like small plates or having someone else portion desserts for you. Keep doing your regular activity. If you “take a break” during the holidays, that will end up being 2-3 months, which is too long.

2. Modifying the recipe takes too much effort. 

Aunt Betty’s apple pie may be off limits to modify, but other favorite family foods may be open to adjusting for healthier versions. Plan your recipes while thinking of how you could substitute grilling for frying, avoid high-salt and high-fat sauces and toppings, increase vegetables and decrease sugar. There are lots of online suggestions for making healthy holiday foods that are both tasty and weight friendly.

3. There is so much good food everywhere, I have to eat it.

Try to avoid impulsive eating. Plan your food for the day the night before. If you know there will be a splurge coming up, stay on your regular eating as much as you can, which will actually help you eat less of the splurge food because you won’t be so hungry and your brain won’t think “I haven’t eaten all day, so I can go for it!” Plan ahead to have a small dessert or drink of alcohol. Walk outside to take a food break, and keep hydrated. If you do overdo it, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on track for the next day.

Weighing yourself every morning is an important way to avoid holiday weight gain. If the weight is going up, you’ll need to make some adjustments. You’ll be glad that you did heading into 2020!

4. I have company in town, so it’s rude to leave them to exercise.

This is a common reason I hear from patients to not exercise. While it’s wonderful being with loved ones you don’t see often, I doubt they would want you to give up your self-care. Modify when and where you exercise, but don’t abandon it. Maybe you’ll have to get up earlier or go during downtime. Invite company to go with you to the gym or build fun activity into your holiday plans! You might be surprised how many will appreciate your efforts.

5. It’s too cold outside to exercise.

Winter in general presents many challenges to exercise, and adding the holidays on top of that can be extra difficult. Your schedule is busier than usual, plus it’s cold and dark outside. This is a time to overcome your obstacles. Bundle up, exercise indoors, switch to in-home videos or whatever it takes to modify your plan.


Sonia Humphrey, MD, specializes in nonsurgical weight loss for Mission Weight Management.

To get started with your life-changing weight-loss journey at Mission Weight Management, call 828-213-4100 or visit missionweight.org [1].