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Christmas diet strategies

The hustle of the Christmas season sets us up to pork on the pounds – our routine of healthy diet and exercise often gets shoved aside for the party circuit and mad-dashing through the snow to finish our last-minute shopping. We need all the help we can get to eat smart and avoid outgrowing our pants. Expert nutritionist Colette Heimowitz shares her top holiday diet strategies to keep us fit and trim.

Woman drinking tea by fire

Holidays revolve around food — and weight gain

“The holidays are a time to get together with friends and family, and often these gatherings revolve around food,” says Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition communication and
education at Atkins Nutritionals. Too true, and who can say no to turkey, stuffing and garlic mashed potatoes topped with gravy? Especially when the host is eagle-eyeing everyone’s actions
around the dinner table. “Add to that fact that we’re all time-starved with shopping and party preparation and it’s easy to see how we end the year with a few extra pounds.”

Heimowitz has 20-plus years of experience as a nutritionist, which includes the time she spent with the celebrated Dr Atkins as director of nutrition at the Atkins Center for Complementary
Medicine. From her expertise, she has learned that holiday weight gain doesn’t have to be the norm. Here are her five top strategies to take a healthier approach to the Christmas festivities
without feeling deprived of all the fun.

Five Christmas diet strategies

1. Don’t arrive at holiday parties hungry

Have a snack before going to Christmas parties to help stabilize blood sugar. You can also have a small low carb meal beforehand, such as an Asian Beef Salad or a serving of Baked Chicken with

2. Avoid using candy dishes as decoration

Beautiful bowls of festively colored candy are too tempting to pass by without grabbing a handful, and another handful, and another. Fill the dishes with festive ornaments instead; they make pretty
Christmas décor without adding calories to your holiday season.

3. Forgo the holiday food gifts

Avoid opening holiday food gifts, such as chocolates or gift baskets filled with refined carbohydrates – all those sweets, crackers and biscuits aren’t good for the waistline. Donate
the food to a shelter or bring it to a holiday party to avoid temptation.

4. Do not serve candy or sweetened nuts

Put out bowls of whole nuts and a nut cracker. Since it takes more effort to get to the nuts, it helps prevent eating too much. Plus, whole nuts are traditional at this time of year.

5. Avoid high-carbohydrate drinks

Eggnog, dessert cocktails, and bottomless glasses or wine or spirits can pile on the pounds. Choose to unwind at the end of a harried day with a cup of soothing peppermint tea by the fire. At
parties, limit your alcohol to one or two glasses of wine, and steer clear of the high calorie, high carbohydrate libations.

Don’t forget to exercise

It’s not easy to fit in regular workouts during this hectic time of year, but if you can fuse seasonal celebrations with getting your body in motion, that’s a big step in the right
direction to preventing the holiday bulge. Heimowitz recommends seasonally-appropriate activities that will let you enjoy the most wonderful time of the year and simultaneously get
some exercise.

Here are a few physical activities that will keep you celebrating the Christmas spirit:

  • Pick your own tree. There’s no better workout than hiking in the fresh air to search for the perfect Christmas tree.
  • Walk around the neighborhood to take in the festive sights. It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit and get a quick cardio workout.
  • Decorate the house. Climb a ladder to hang the mistletoe, walk up the stairs to drape a garland. The house will look great and your body will benefit.
  • Take a walk with friends or family after the holiday meal instead of heading straight to the couch.

More ways to avoid the Christmas bulge

For more information and healthy holiday recipes, visit

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