7 Ways to Survive Holiday Dinners

Cooked turkey on a plate in front of a man with his mouth wide open, ready to eat it.

While the holidays can be a ton of fun, they can also lead to regret and excessive weight gain. Holiday parties, meals, and gatherings can all leave us loosening our belts and doing a double-take in the mirror as we walk by if we aren’t careful.

This article will lay out several strategies you should consider implementing into your holiday to help prevent unwanted weight gain.

A man and woman doing a kettle bell workout outdoors.

1. Exercise First Thing in the Morning

One of the best things you can do on the day of a holiday is to hit the gym early in the morning upon waking. Not only will this get your workout out of the way, but it will help you burn calories before you even get the day started as well as prevent you from skipping the gym later due to time constraints or the gym closing early.

Hit both your resistance training as well as some cardio to maximize your day and allow the calories you consume during the holiday to be used towards the recovery process. This is a great plan to aid in minimizing weight gain.

Two slices of peanut butter banana toast.

2. Have a Snack Before Your Meal or Heading to a Family Meal

Whether you’re having everyone over to your place or you’re heading to a family member’s home for a holiday meal, if you want to minimize weight gain, eat a small snack before you leave or have people over.

By having a snack and arriving with something already in your stomach, you won’t be as hungry, which can lead to standing around the food table and picking at all of the appetizers before the meal. In addition, having something already in your stomach can help you feel more satiated, which can lead to you not eating as much during the actual meal and going back for seconds (or fifths).

Man drinking water from a NutraBio hydronator water jug.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Water will be your best friend during holiday meals. Not only will you skip all of the calorie-filled beverages like soda, sweetened tea, and adult beverages, but water can help you feel full longer. Along with the snack you’re having before you leave (like what was said in #2), drink a glass of water too before walking out the door. Then, when you arrive at the gathering, start with a glass of water, which will add to the volume already in your stomach that can trick the brain into believing you are full.

Do you really want to go up for seconds but know you shouldn’t? Are you worried about weight gain? Drink water throughout your meal and continue to consume water well after you are done with your first plate. Again, this can fill up the stomach further and allow leptin to kick in to tell you that you’ve had enough food and to put the fork down.

Three sources of protein on a fork, peanut, ham, chicken.

4. Protein is Your Friend

You should already know how important protein is from being active and focusing on utilizing protein to rebuild torn down muscle fibers. Leverage this during holidays to avoid weight gain.

If you are going to have some appetizers before the meal, look for protein sources like nuts or even the shrimp cocktail. Then during the actual meal, load up on the protein source being served – ham, turkey, etc. This will help you feel satiated and prevent you from overeating and overconsuming all of those delicious carbs that could get you in trouble.

Pac-man game with common holiday foods replacing the fruit.

5. Have a Game Plan

You should already be aware that protein is your #1 priority during holiday meals from what was just mentioned above. Go into your holiday meals with a game plan. Upon arrival, figure out what all will be served as the main course as well as scoping out the food table with all of the appetizers and foods that you can pick at before your meal.

Grab a plate and load up on protein sources as well as vegetables prior to the meal to set the stage and start filling up your stomach. Veggies like broccoli are a great way to leverage the fiber content and help keep you feeling full. The key to preventing weight gain is a matter of strategy. Going into the holiday meal without a plan is like trying to sail the ocean without a map, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.

Then comes the actual meal, load up the majority of your plate with protein, and then fill in the rest with some carbohydrates and fats to round out your meal and at least get a little enjoyment from the foods you generally don’t eat throughout the year. If you plan ahead, you can easily fit in those yummy carbs and desserts without completely sabotaging your caloric intake and macros.

Another little tip to prevent weight gain is to eat slowly. This will allow more time for the signals between your stomach and brain to play catch up and for your brain to finally tell you that you’ve had enough. If you eat too quickly, the message doesn’t get sent fast enough, and you end up overeating.

One tiny drumstick on a plate.

6. Enjoy Yourself But Be Wise When it Comes to Portion Sizes

From the game plan mentioned in #5, be aware of your portion sizes. Maybe you binge on a sliver of cake or pie rather than a gigantic piece? Perhaps you put a little stuffing on your plate but skip the mashed potatoes? Be strategic with your portions and how much of all the other things you plan on eating according to your game plan.

If you look down and the bulk of your plate is carbohydrates, you know you messed up. Think of your plate as a pie chart, load up half of the plate with protein, and then divide the other portions into your carbohydrates and fat. Don’t take too much of any one food item, otherwise, you’ll throw off your portions.

No laying down.

7. Don’t Collapse on the Couch After the Meal

The last thing you want to do following a holiday meal is collapse on the couch. If the weather is nice out, go for a walk or toss the football around. Get active and start burning off some of those calories you consumed, so you aren’t hopping on the scale the next morning to see weight gain and regret.

Should the weather not be cooperating on the day of a holiday, don’t sit around. You want to stand and mingle with those around you. Any little bit of movement is better than sitting for hours.

Need a Little Help Curbing Your Cravings?

If you’re the type of person who can’t seem to control themselves during the holidays, consider utilizing an appetite suppressant before heading out to the holiday gathering. NutraBio has some amazing supplements that can help you control your appetite and cravings.

While we aren’t here to be the fun police, you can very easily have fun, eat some fantastic food, and do it without overdoing things which can lead to weight gain. By taking what was mentioned in this article, you can go into the holidays with a great plan to stay on track with your health and fitness progress.

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