How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: Thanksgiving to New Years – Telehealth Functional Medicine Serving California

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain: Thanksgiving to New Years – Telehealth Functional Medicine Serving California

To avoid holiday weight gain, a great tip is to rewire the way we think about the holidays in general. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in foods they wouldn’t otherwise eat. Others simply eat more than they otherwise would.

To avoid holiday weight gain, a great tip is to rewire the way we think about the holidays in general. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in foods they wouldn’t otherwise eat. Others simply eat more than they otherwise would.

The holidays are renowned for being a time for gathering, gifting, games, and yes, food. But how have the holidays become so centered around food? This has happened due to the fact that sharing a meal has traditionally been a sacred activity, one that gathers people for nourishment and regeneration. Food is celebrated as a gift from a higher power and mealtimes present the opportunity to show our appreciation.

However, for some, this tradition has drifted away from its original meaning and has become a time of overindulgence. We’re going to dive deeper into changing our perspectives about food and the holidays. Then, we’ll examine specific ways to be more mindful during the holidays which will ultimately help us avoid holiday weight gain.

Avoid holiday weight gain by gaining a newfound respect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years all have a couple of things in common: they bring people together and are usually food-centric holidays.

Many of us love and honor the holidays for the family time they offer us. But have we been true in honoring what each holiday represents? Let’s explore.


It’s there, upfront in its name: “Thanks.” Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and to show thanks. I recall many years with family spent passing thankful speeches around the dinner table—often followed by multiple servings of rich food for everyone (oops!).

The irony is, the origin of Thanksgiving revolves around being grateful for the food Mother Earth provides. By eating as much of it as we can, we practice gluttony, not gratitude. To eat through gratitude, we should eat only what we need while appreciating every bite.

Christmas and Hanukkah

Contemporarily, Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Christ. Yet it also happens to be a day of treats and overindulgence for many people. Why? Reflecting back on the life of Christ, would He encourage gluttony? Some traditions even believe that Jesus believed in and practiced fasting as a form of asceticism.

As for Hanukkah, it’s understandable that fried foods and oil are important symbols for the Jewish. This is due to the role oil played in lighting a menorah for eight full days, rededicating a temple after victory over a tyrant king. Because of this, fried foods (especially fried, cheesy pancakes) are consumed in observance of Hanukkah. My suggestion is to always use healthy oils and practice moderation in everything.

New Years

Many people observe New Years by overeating and drinking a lot of alcohol. Shouldn’t New Years represent a chance for us to begin anew and leave behind the mishaps of the previous year?

As with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah, we can choose to observe New Years in a balanced way. We can choose to view it as a time for gratitude, health, and renewal.

Specific tips to avoid holiday weight gain

There are many traps we can fall into during the holidays that will lead us astray from our health and wellness goals. It can be easy to lose sight of our healing aspirations, especially during this time (much of the world is indulging in holiday treats and large portion sizes, shouldn’t we do it too?).

Here are some tips to keep fit and healthy while still enjoying the holidays.

Avoid snacking and eating out

Try to eat only during mealtime, especially when fattening, tempting snacks are present. Not only will this tip ensure a more mindful holiday experience, but it will also reinforce good eating habits as well. This is a must if you want to avoid holiday weight gain.

During holiday prepping and shopping, plan to eat first, so you don’t grow hungry and end up eating quick and convenient unhealthy snacks and meals. If you do snack, keep healthy alternatives on hand for when your busy schedule doesn’t permit a well-timed meal. A handful of raw nuts is an easy option to carry with you, for example.

Have the main meal in the afternoon rather than in the evening

Thanksgiving often focuses on a rather large meal–usually late in the day. For many years my family has practiced eating the main meal in the mid-afternoon rather than in the evening. I’ve always enjoyed this timing; digesting well before bed leads to better sleep and less weight gain, according to studies .

Eating in the afternoon is a joyful experience anyway. From my experience, food is cooking as I wake up, family gathers earlier, and everyone stays together for games, conversation, and other activities, long after the sun has gone to sleep.

Make healthy dishes from scratch

This one’s a no-brainer for your health. Making all your dishes from scratch is more wholesome for you and your family’s bodies. Knowing exactly what’s going into the food is an important step if you’re looking to avoid holiday weight gain. Instead of buying that pre-made pumpkin pie full of preservatives, poor-quality sweeteners, and unhealthy fats, for example, look up a recipe and get creative. There are several tricks to reduce the unhealthy fats and sugars found in some recipes. Try substituting traditional fats and sugars with healthier alternatives such as flaxseed, nonfat milk, and honey.

Here are a few extra tips to help with your cooking endeavors.

  • Know ahead of time what dishes will be served on Thanksgiving. If you’re in charge of any of them, leave yourself plenty of time to look up recipes and shop for ingredients.


  • Make a dish that’s centered around vegetables. There are plenty of casseroles, sweet potato souffles, and veggie roasts to go around. Get creative and you’ll please everyone with a delicious, wholesome dish.


  • Opt for organic ingredients. Eating organic, whole ingredients rather than canned food, for example, goes a long way. When I make my organic dishes, I label them “organic” and watch family and friends swarm them with interest and delight!

Prioritize physical, after-meal activities with family

Go or a walk in the park, play a sport, or go for a bicycle ride through the neighborhood with family following meals. Studies show that light exercise following a meal is good for digestion and yes, preventing weight gain . Also, physical activity will bring your family together in a fun, healthy way. You may even start (or strengthen) a healthy daily habit!

Avoid holiday weight gain by reconnecting with your New Year’s weight/fitness goals

Close your eyes and imagine that the holidays shifted from being a capitalist, consumer-centered time of the year to a regenerative, grateful time of the year. Imagine if instead of indulging, overusing, and over-shopping, the paradigm shifted to a health and wellness-focused end of the year. Would we be happier on the whole? What does this tell you about how you truly wish to behave during the upcoming holidays?

To remain true to our overall health goals and to avoid holiday weight gain, we must admit that gluttony and unhealthy eating, although enjoyable at that moment, leads to unwanted consequences. It creates digestive unease, low energy levels, and yes, promotes weight gain.

By reconnecting with our wellness goals, we set ourselves up for a mindful holiday experience, greatly limiting unhealthy treats and full of healthy new recipes, family activity, and new perspectives on the meaning of each holiday.

Interested in discovering more ways to enjoy a healthy lifestyle? Visit the TelMD Upstream blog!

Let’s Make Wellness Contagious! ™