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Getting Through the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

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By Christine Ardigo MSRD

How Much Will you Gain this Holiday Season?

The holidays are upon us and the gift no one wants to get stuck with is “those extra pounds.” Between the parties, stress, and holiday food, you need a plan to deal with these tempting eating occasions.  Holidays should be a time of memories, thanks and laughter with family and friends, but there is always a huge amount of food available. We need to eat healthier and lighter on non-party days, and increase our exercise as well. Here are some tips to get you started.



Although a celebratory drink is fine, excessive drinking or consuming drinks that are really “desserts in disguise” can be a too easy way to ingest your calories.  At gatherings, start with a non-alcoholic drink or save the alcoholic beverage for your meal. Mix alcohol with diet soda or club soda. Mix wine with club soda for a wine spritzer.  Drink light beer.

Here are the Calories in Common Holiday Drinks

Eggnog with Rum: 370 calories & 14gms of fat                Champagne: 100 Calories

Hot Buttered Rum: 300 calories & 11gms of fat              Martini: (6oz) 600 Calories

Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (3oz): 310 calories                   Light Beer: 100 Calories

Baileys (1oz) 150 calories & 7gms of fat                          Wine: 120 cal -Spritzer: 60 cal

Peppermint Hot Cocoa: 380calories & 26gms fat            Regular beer: 150 calories

Kahlua, Amaretto, Schnapps (1oz): 110-135 cal              Vodka/Gin: (1oz) 65 calories

Tricks to Get You Through


  • When shopping, bring your list, but also bring healthy snacks to get you through the entire day.
  • If you feel the need to splurge on all the glorious food, don’t waste calories on beverages: drink water.
  • Fill up on lean meat and vegetables and decrease your carbohydrate intake.
  • When you eat carbs, choose those high in fiber.
  • If you must try everything your host prepares, take small portions.
  • When you indulge, pick your poison: alcohol or dessert and just have a small serving.
  • Exercise more to reduce stress & keep the pounds off.
  • If you’re hosting a party, serve healthier food items. You will feel better and so will your guests.
  • Instead of bringing the usual high fat desserts or alcohol as a gift, opt for healthier choices such as a fruit or vegetable platter, or even gift certificates to a spa, personal trainer or a dietitian!

The Plan for the Day of the Event

sanchez3Courtesy of Christine Sanchez

*Eat a good healthy breakfast, high in protein & fiber, for example:

  • Protein Shake with fruit and flaxseed
  • Oatmeal with nuts and fruit
  • Eggs with an array of vegetables

*Right before the event EAT!  Starving yourself will increase the chances of bingeing and making poor food choices.  Have a high protein, high in fiber snack right before, like an apple with a few nuts.

*Chew on a piece of gum as you enter the party to postpone your eating. Then have a cold glass of water.

*Limit appetizers.  One little pigs in the blanket, a Swedish meatball and a cracker with cheese provides 300 calories already!

*Keep portion sizes in mind when sitting down for dinner.  There will be more food than you can fit on your plate. Choose foods wisely, limit portions, and watch out for additions such as gravy, salad dressings, “glazed” foods and butter.

*Choose more meat and vegetables, and less carbs.

*Start the party with the fruit and vegetable platter, then eat lean protein, more vegetables, then high fiber starches.  Keep any sweets or alcohol for the end, and only in limited amounts.

What to Choose

sanchez4Courtesy of Christine Sanchez


Good and _____________     ___________ Not So Good Food Choices

Broth based soups                                                  Cream based soups

Turkey, lean roast beef                                           Antipasto meats

All vegetables                                                         Glazed/candied/buttered veggies

Baked sweet potato                                                Mashed potatoes/rolls

Unsalted nuts                                                          Salted/candied nuts

Light beer, wine spritzer                                         Heavy holiday drinks

Water, tea/coffee                                                    Sodas, juices, fancy hot beverages

Veggie/fruit platter                                                 Fried appetizers /cheese

Mixed green salad                                                   Croutons, salad dressings

Small portion of dessert                                         Multiple portions of dessert

If your host is serving all “not so good” foods, just have a very small portion of each.  After all, you’re really there for the company, not the food.

Maintaining your weight during the holidays is a great step in starting a healthy lifestyle for the New Year.  Why wait until January 1st?  If you are able to do it now, you will be able to conquer any food situation.

On the other hand, it is a holiday. Relax, have fun with your family and friends and RETURN to your healthy lifestyle the following morning


Recipes to Try!

Coconut-Cardamom Sweet Potatoes

Serves 10

5 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces

1 tsp pure vanilla extract                             : 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

¾ cup light coconut milk                               : 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp cardamom, ground                               : 1/3 cup unsalted pecan halves, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add sweet potatoes, return to boiling and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Drain and transfer potatoes to a bowl.  Add all ingredients (except pecans) to potatoes and mix on medium.  Transfer to a 9×9-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle pecans evenly over sweet potato mixture.  Bake 45-50 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  100 calories, 3.5gms fat, 15gm carbs


Green Beans with Roasted Chestnuts

Serves 10

1 ½ lbs French green beans                                          : 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP olive oil                                                              : 1/3 cup low salt chicken broth

2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)                       : juice of half a lemon

1 ½ cups canned vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, sliced

¼ tsp sea salt                                                                : ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add beans to pot and boil for 3-4 minutes.  Fill another bowl with ice water.  Drain and immediately transfer beans to ice water for 2 minutes.

Drain again and set aside.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add shallots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add chestnuts and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add broth, bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.  Add beans to shallot mixture and toss well, about 2 minutes.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and serve hot.  90 calories, 5gms fat, 12gms carbs


Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

   Serves 10

2  15-oz cans pumpkin puree                              : ¼ tsp Nutmeg, ground

¼ tsp cloves, ground                                            :¾ tsp ginger, ground

1  1-lb pkg of silken tofu, drained                       : ¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup pure maple syrup                                      : ½ cup  Non-fat Greek yogurt

1 ½ tsp cinnamon, ground                                    : ¼ cup  dark chocolate, shredded


Combine pumpkin and tofu and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Process until combined, about 30 seconds more.  Transfer mousse to a re-sealable container, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Drain any water that has accumulated from mousse; give it a quick stir and scoop ½ cup mousse into each of 10 small glasses.  Top each serving with 2 tsp yogurt and 1 tsp chocolate.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

130 calories, 3.5gms fat, 22gms carbs,


What are your biggest Holiday obstacles? Any secret ways to get around them?           Any favorite healthy recipes to share?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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14 Thoughts on “Getting Through the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

  1. Robin Blumstein on November 17, 2013 at 5:32 pm said:

    Very helpful article. Thank you for including the calories. It definetly is a big help when trying to make good choices.

  2. Thanks for sharing this helpful post with all of us at WWB!

  3. Excellent advice! I’m doing a lecture next week discussing Surviving the Holidays and trying to emphasize that it IS possible to maintain and even LOSE weight during the holidays if you do it right.

    The most important take home – it IS all about the company and hanging out with loved ones, not the food. 🙂

    I might have to try that mousse recipe, it sounds yummy!

  4. So far so good! Not a pound gained. A little extra running helps 🙂

    I’m adding your pumpkin mousse to my Christmas dinner menu. Yummy pumpkin love!

    I host a weekly link up, Fitness Friday and would love to have you join. You can find the latest link up at 🙂

  5. Green Beans & Chestnuts – YES!! 🙂 Two of my favorite things!

  6. I see that you have juices on your list.
    Are you referring to the store bought variety?
    We have a masticating juicer and we normally juice at least twice a day.
    I know that it strips the fiber out leaving just the nutrients but I am not sure if it would play an active role in weight loss or weight gain?

    • Christine on December 24, 2013 at 11:59 am said:

      Store bought juices in the Dry goods aisle, are all sugar and not real.
      In the refrigerator section, they should be all 100% juice (read label) but only a mere 4oz has 60 calories and no fiber.
      The juicers are good IF they save 100% of the piece of fruit. Again watch your portions, you dont want to drink your calories.
      You are better off eating a whole piece of fruit. Fruit also has no protein and gets digested quickly. I guess it would depend
      if you needed to cut calories, or if you were eating enough fiber or getting enough nutrients from other sources (other fruits
      and veggies)
      See recent post on Fruits & Veggies:

  7. I am always on the look out for new and healthy dishes to make for family gatherings. Thanks, these are great! Love that they have the calorie count too!

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