Healthy for the Holidays: Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain

With the holidays in full swing, many people are looking forward to rich meals of turkey, gravy, buttery mashed potatoes and sweet, decadent desserts. At this time of year, canapes and chocolates are plentiful, as are chips and dip and holiday baking.

Even the most self-disciplined indulge in the delicious foods that accompany this festive time of year. However, a reality of the season is weight gain, and studies show that most people struggle to lose that extra holiday weight.

“This is a tough time of year to stick with a healthy lifestyle – there’s lots of sweets and alcohol,” says Victoria Chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie. “I don’t advise anyone not to indulge, but to set limits, so that they don’t later regret over-indulging.”

Dr. Louie often advises her patients on nutrition and offers the following tips for keeping weight off while still getting to indulge in the flavours of the season.

  1. Everything in moderation – when filling your plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, and sugary sweets, don’t overdo it. We all know how awful we can feel when we overeat.
  2. The 50/50 strategy – Dr. Louie suggests that when filling your dinner plate, you first fill half your plate with healthy salad and vegetables, leaving the other half for meat, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, etc.
  3. Don’t go to events starving – have a salad or healthy snack before going to a party where appetizers and desserts will be served. You are more likely to binge eat if you are extremely hungry when you arrive.
  4. Provide healthy options – if you are cooking or attending a potluck, prepare dishes that are healthier, such as a dessert that is lower in sugar. See recipes.
  5. Keep exercising – try to keep up on exercising, even if it’s taking a walk as a family after dinner to enjoy the holiday lights. A good workout can take as little as 12 minutes as we told you in last month’s post Healthy for the Holidays: Making Exercise Easy.
  6. Savour every bite – take the time to enjoy every bite of food and feel satisfied by it, instead of unconsciously putting food into your mouth.
  7. Enjoy the company, ambiance – try to associate the joy of good company, music and a cheerful ambiance with holiday parties versus putting the emphasis on food.
  8. Drink warm lemon water – warm water with lemon helps to flush toxins out of the body, boosts the immune system, can help with reducing pain and inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid, and aids in the production of digestive juices.

Above and beyond these 8 recommendations, Dr. Louie advises against feeling guilty and stressed over having indulged (or over-indulged) in holiday treats, and regularly recommends her patients relax and give themselves a break.

“Emotional stress can be as harmful as physical stress on the body, bringing about physiological changes in the gut, muscles and joints,” says Dr. Louie. “Outside of these holiday parties, try to eat clean and be self-disciplined and then allow yourself a cheat day to enjoy what you want to eat.”

At Mind Body Spine, Dr. Louie takes a holistic approach to healing that includes chiropractic treatment, nutrition counselling, exercise and positive thinking.

To learn more about chiropractic care, check out Dr. Stephanie’s Louie’s website: She provides relief for back pain – you don’t need to suffer.


The suggestions and advice provided by Dr. Louie should not be relied upon in place of a Chiropractor professional assessment.