Family feasts, lunch with friends and baskets of goodies arriving at the office – the holidays are filled with opportunities to enjoy food, fun and the company of loved ones. But they’re also rife with risk for anyone trying to eat healthy.

“Research suggests that those people who are vulnerable to excess weight, gain more weight over the holidays,” says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers International. “That’s not surprising given the increased stress, temptations and consumption of high-calorie and high-fat foods that come with the holiday season.”

It is possible to get through the holidays with your good intentions – and your waistline – intact. Here’s advice for dealing with some food-related obstacles commonly faced during this busy time.

Avoid the Party Binge

“Humans are social animals and eating is a very social experience,” Miller-Kovach notes. “That’s why we tend to eat more at parties – plus, holiday celebrations usually serve up a variety of treats that we don’t usually get throughout the year.”

Before you head out to a holiday party, dine at home on healthy fare that will keep you feeling full, like lean protein and fiber-rich vegetables. Curbing your appetite ahead of time will help you keep control at the party.

Go light on cocktails. Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Opt for spritzers – sparkling soda water and some fruit flavors – as a healthful alternative to spirits.

The holidays can be a stressful time, and it’s tempting to “cope” by overeating at a party or even at home. Instead of turning to food for stress relief, try an activity that reminds you of the joys of the season like skiing or ice skating.

Be Mindful When

on the Road

If you’re dining out a lot for the holidays, it may be hard to stick to your weight loss plan. But there are ways to minimize the damage of restaurant eating.

First, skip the appetizer. Appetizers are often fried and can pack more calories than the entree.

Second, watch out for calorie overload that’s caused by eating the entire portion normally served in restaurants. If you’re getting full, try not to clean your plate; eat only half of what you’re served and take home the rest.

If you’re taking long drives, avoid buying snacks along the way. Instead, pack your own goodies – like almonds, apples or even baby carrots.

Flying? Airport delays are common during the holidays and same goes here – plan ahead to avoid eating airport food and pack your own snacks so that you are in control. For instance, Weight Watchers subscribers can use tools like the new Weight Watchers Mobile, to help them track their food options and maintain their weight loss efforts while on the go.

The Gift that

Keeps on Giving

Finally, nothing says “holiday spirit” like a gift food basket, but the truth is these favorites are often packed with empty calories. If you’re giving a gift basket, look for ones that offer more healthful items – such as fresh fruits. If you receive a gift basket, consider simply thanking the giver for their sentiment and then discretely re-gift the item to your local charity.

Once the Rush is Over

Once this hectic season passes, a scientifically-based approach to weight loss, such as Weight Watchers Meetings and Weight Watchers Online, can provide you with the tools and information you need to embark on a healthy lifestyle, lose weight and keep it off. Visit for more information.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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