How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Are you hoping to get through the holiday season without gaining that pound or two? Though it may not sound like much consider this: the entire obesity crisis could be avoided if we lost one pound per year instead of gaining it. That one pound gained per year eventually leads us to the 10 pounds we put on per decade. That weight is often acquired during the holidays. The trick is to either manage it wisely and/or drop it immediately in January. This way you can still, quite literally, have your cake and eat it to.

On the management end, here are three easy weight loss tips to prevent the problem:

  • Increase physical activity during the holiday week(s) by 15 minutes each day. A skipping rope does wonders. Really! Clear a space and skip for 5 minutes in the am. You will rev up your metabolism which will not only help you burn excess calories-it will also give you more energy. To skip properly, flick your wrists and keep your hands close to your hips. Hop on your toes and don’t let your heels touch the ground.
  • Drink more water to fill you up. Herbal tea is a great way to go, adding flavour, nutrients and warmth. Omit all liquid calories: no lattes with caramel or pop. That could cut 300-500 calories per day depending upon your current habit. Spend those on your extra holiday treats and you will be further ahead.
  • Eat more fiber to make you feel full and able to resist temptation. Try adding chia to breakfast, it can go in yogurt, on eggs or spread into peanut butter without even being noticed.

Your cheat sheet for eating at holiday sit down dinners:

  • Fill up on a plate of green vegetables, broth based soup or salad before you go to any party. Dialing down impulses is the best way to start.
  • Avoid the chips, nuts, sweets that are placed around for your fattening pleasure.  Position your body away from the tempting table.
  • Stand next to the veggies and dip that you brought yourself.
  • For full meals, fill your plate with protein and “un-fatted” vegetables first.
  • Truly enjoy only a tablespoon of the dangerous dudes:
    • Mashed squash
    • Mashed potatoes
    • Buttered carrots
    • Stuffing
    • Any “casserole” type dish
    • Gravy
    • Cheese sauce
    • Salad dressing


  • Wait an hour to be sure you actually want dessert then serve yourself a small piece rather than accepting what you are handed by the hostess.

The holidays “done right” will allow you to taste your way through some delicious fun without doing yourself in. The holidays “done wrong” will cause you to gain an extra couple of pounds to lose on top of the few you picked up and forgot about last year.

How to Tell Your 10-Year-Old Santa Isn’t Bringing the Cell phone He or She Asked For

As soon as I post this, I am off to the mall to finish my holiday shopping.  It will be a leaner Christmas for the Schafer’s, but mostly because I bought myself a $1,000 emergency root canal last week. I can’t blame the economy on that.  I did share my thoughts on how to handle the money crisis and the upcoming holiday with children in yesterday’s Globe and Mail.  You can read it here if you’d like more information on the how to have the “money talk.”  (Gee, and we thought talking about sex was difficult!)

Frankly, I am happy to do some consumer downsizing and spend more of my energies on the other traditions that surround this season.  Here is some of what our family does:

  • I have bought each of my children a goat to give to another family through Free The Children. This is an organization my daughter is involved with, and a goat is a really tangible thing that they were thrilled to “get” for these other children.  (Yeah, I already told them. Couldn’t wait till the 25th!)
  • Last year I asked my daughter to give something to the families in Darfur (South Sudan) as her gift to me. That meant she had to do some research, and she was really moved but what she learned.  It was a gift to us both, really.  She was really proud to have sent her own money to their aid.
  • Every year my husband and I ask our children for something they have made themselves.They are 13 and 14 years old now, but I still keep this tradition going. Last year, I got a wonderful scrapbook that my daughter compiled called, “The 100 things I love about you.”  The year before, I received a tin box with a glass front, and inside the tin was a note that said, “We blew 100 kisses each into this box for you,” so I could have a kiss any time I needed one.

Be creative yourself in your quest to have the best holiday ever with your family.  If you really want those presents under the tree, see if Christmas lasagna could become a new tradition!  I think I spend more at the grocery store than the mall anyway.

However you go about it, remember that all of our stresses are in fact self-inflicted miseries.  I refuse to indulge myself that way. You always have the ability to control your attitude, regardless of how dire the situation.  Enjoy your family. That is all that matters.


About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at


Two Key Messages for a Good Start to 2015

I usually write about parenting because I spend a lot of time doing it. With six crazy kids, parenting is a full-time job. But, like most busy moms there are other things going on in my life and I try to keep positive in those areas as well. My perspective is the only thing I can control and it has been my best survival tool.

I thought I’d share a couple of quick “non-parenting” messages that are important to me. If you embrace these simple ideas for 2015, I think you’ll be happy you did.

1)      Be a good friend. On top of sharing great times together and being supportive, I believe the number one thing to practice in your friendships is one of my favourite friendship quotes:

2)      Try not to care what people think. I know it’s hard, but I try to be a lion every day. I put myself out there, and sometimes I cop criticism or get visits from “trolls” about my ideas or opinions. I remind myself that I’m the best qualified to live my life the way I want and raise my family according to what I think is best. People who judge from afar are the sheep. Roar loudly and ignore all the “baa-ing” in the background.

Are you facing the New Year with any key messages you hope to carry with you throughout 2015?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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