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Avoid Gaining An Extra 5lbs Over the Holidays

‘Tis the season of ugly Christmas sweater parties, white elephant gifts (another scented candle anyone?), and oh, right…. An extra 5lbs.

Maybe you can skip the last one this December! (Or, better yet, the last two).

If the holidays leave you worrying about weight gain – or saying “to hell with it” and eating everything in sight and then regretting that decision come January – you’re in good company.

But, if you’d rather not don stretchy pants and over-sized sweaters as your only wardrobe option post-yuletide, listen up.

You don’t have to put on an extra 5lbs this month. And you can do it without starving yourself and saying “No” to everything delicious. I promise.

It’s about making conscious choices. Indulging where it really counts for you. And not getting caught up in the ridiculousness that is Trader Joe’s seasonal sweets (which, for the record, ARE ridiculously good).

Here are my top tips to help you avoid gaining an extra 5lbs over the holidays.

1. Eat (the right) breakfast

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again: Eating breakfast sets up your metabolism for the day.

You just need to make sure you’re “breaking the (overnight) fast” the right way.

If your idea of a healthy breakfast is something “light” like oatmeal or cereal or fruit (or, God forbid, juice), you’ll pay the price later. Likely not much later. Because when these quick-to-digest meals have spiked your blood sugar and then crashed it, you’ll be hangry-er than the grinch. Trust me, the healthy breakfast mistake is an easy one to make.

On the other hand, if you eat a solid, balanced breakfast, you’re less likely to overeat throughout the rest of the day.

Need ideas? Check out this post for *actual* well-balanced breakfasts.

2. Don’t starve yourself all day to “save up” for the big feast

OK, so maybe you’re with me about eating breakfast, but say you have a holiday work party on Friday night. Surely, you should skip lunch so you have room to indulge that night. Right?!

Tempting. I know. But, this plan is notorious for self-sabotage.


When you ignore your hunger cues, you teach your body to ignore your fullness cues.

By the time you get to your holiday party at 8pm, you’re gonna be so famished that you won’t even realize you’ve had 8 slices of caramel-encrusted-Brie-puff-pastry-bite-thingies until you’re on to your third plate of “finger foods.”

Skipped meals come back to bite you. Every. Single. Time.

So, do your body a favor. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch. Snack smart if you get hungry between meals. Then show up to your party with just a hint of hunger, so you’re not tempted to eat every last cookie on the platter.

Not sure how to know if you’re hungry? Read this.

3. Prioritize protein (and don’t fear fat)

Protein and fat fill you up and keep you full. Simple as that.

If you’re finding yourself suuuper snack-y or getting into the fancy chocolates a little too much, take a step back and ask yourself if you’ve had enough hearty (read: non-sugary) foods that day.

If not, make a point to nosh on some good quality cheese, nuts (preferably not candy-coated), salami, olives, hard-boiled eggs, leftover roasted chicken, beef jerky, full-fat Greek yogurt, etc…

These will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full, so you can think about things other than food for a bit. Imagine that!

4. Indulge, BUT do it with a plan

I’m not gonna pretend that I skip out on sweets and treats over the holidays. That’s just not the case (with the exception of any foods that 100% don’t agree with me, of course).

However, I’m choosy about what treats I eat. First and foremost, I make sure that whatever indulgence I’m eating actually tastes really, really good.

That means from the first little nibble to the last bite, I’m full-on savoring that dark chocolate peppermint truffle. I’m noticing how it melts on my tongue, the zing of the peppermint extract, and the smoothness of the ganache.

I’m also fully present with what feedback my body is giving me. Is my throat getting a little sore because it’s too sweet? Is my stomach feeling ok while I’m eating this? How full am I feeling right at this moment?

All of these little mindful eating check points help me focus on the pleasure of eating while preventing me from eating so much that my stomach is uncomfortably full.

And if I’ve decided that whatever I’m eating is not AH-mazing, I have no qualms about not finishing it.

Not sure you could actually eat this way? Try out a little trick I call the Hunger Awareness Exercise. Practice, practice, practice.

5. Continue to be a veggie-holic

I left this one for last because if it had been #1 on my list – be honest, now – you probably would have closed the window and walked away.

I’m all for rich foods, but at a certain point, I find my body actively asking for something green. Plus, veggies naturally displace a lot of other less-healthy options. Aim to make non-starchy vegetables half of your plate.

Personally, I think they are super delicious, too – as long as they are prepared well!

Not a fan of vegetables or in need of some veggie recipe inspiration? Grab a free copy of my popular ebook, “Veggies: Eat Them Because You Want To, Not Because You Have To” below. It’s my gift to you.

Happy holidays!

Until next week,

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

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  1. Good tips! Thanks so much!

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