Surviving the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

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 all 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 around. We need to eat healthier and lighter on non-function 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                  Peppermint hot chocolate: 380 calories & 26gms fat

Hot buttered rum: 300 calories & 11gms of fat                Martini: (6oz) 600 calories

Godiva chocolate liqueur (3oz): 310 calories                    Kahlua, Amaretto, Schnapps (1oz): 110-135 calories

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

Champagne: 100 calories                                                      Regular beer: 150 calories

Light beer: 100 calories                                                          Vodka/Gin: (1oz) 65 calories



If you feel the need to splurge on all the glorious food, don’t waste calories on beverages; drink water. Fill up on low fat 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 of each.  If you indulge, pick your poison: alcohol or dessert, or just have a small serving or both. Exercise more to reduce stress and keep the pounds off.  If you are hosting a party, serve lower fat, lower calorie varieties of all of the favorites: 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! And, don’t forget, when shopping for gifts, bring your list, but also bring healthy snacks to get you through the long day.  Even tossing a protein bar in your jacket will do.


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

  • ​Protein Shake with fruit, veggies, Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, or peanut butter
  • ​Oatmeal with nuts, fruit, flaxseed, chia seeds, protein powder, milk
  • ​Egg omelet with peppers, onion, tomatoes


*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, like 8 grapes with 8 whole almonds.

*Chew on a piece of gum before entering party and start with a cold glass of water.

*Limit appetizers.  One little pigs in the blanket, 1 Swedish meatball and 1 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 last, and only in limited quantities.


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’ll be able to conquer any food situation.  On the other hand, it’s a holiday – relax, have fun with your family and friends, and return to your healthy lifestyle the following morning.

Coconut-Cardamom Sweet Potatoes

Serves 10

5 medium sweet potatoes peeled       ​

½ tsp sea salt

and cut into ¾ inch pieces                 ​

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

1 tsp pure vanilla extract



​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       ​​

¼ tsp sea salt

roasted chestnuts, sliced                  ​​

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 100% pure pumpkin     ​​​

¼ tsp Nutmeg, ground

puree (not pie filling) ​            ​​   ​

¼ tsp cloves, ground

1 1-lb pkg of silken tofu, drained     ​​​

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup pure maple syrup​             ​​ ​

½ cup Fat free Greek yogurt

1 & ½ tsp cinnamon, ground             ​​ ​

1oz dark chocolate, cut into thin shards (1/4 cup)

¾ tsp ginger, ground​


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.


Christine ProfileChristine Ardigo is a Registered Dietitian/Personal Trainer who writes contemporary romance novels in her spare time. When weight lifting, rock climbing, white-water rafting, and jumping out of airplanes wasn’t enough, she decided to fulfill a dream she had as a child: to write a book. She’s lived in New York her entire life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. She has the beaches, the bay and the city, all a half hour away. She’s built memories here with her husband, two silly daughters and a bunch of crazy friends, all whom she loves very much. You can discover more about Christine on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:


Read Free Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine December 2018






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.