Did you survive the tricks and treats of Halloween? Are there snack-size temptations still lingering behind cabinet doors? As these food-centered holidays continue, now might be a good time to make sure you have some healthy eating strategies up your sleeve.

Here is the good news: The average person gains only 1-2 pounds over the holidays, and while this is probably less than you thought, the bad news is that this weight doesn’t come off, and adds up year after year.

Read on for smart and seasonal eating strategies. These tips will enable you to ring in the New Year without putting on one pesky pound!

1. Strategically Socialize:

Fuel up before you go!

Eat a small nutritious meal or snack before you leave home, even if it is before a dinner party. This ensures, YOU, not your hunger, are in charge of what and how much you eat.

Proximity has power.

Remember proximity has power; the closer you stand to the food fest, the more you will eat. Distance yourself from the buffet table.  Take a seat.  Your body doesn’t mindfully register food as well when standing, and you are likely to eat more.

Build a better plate.

my plate

The USDA My Plate guide is filled with ½ fruits and vegetable, ~1/4 of protein, ~1/4 grains, and a side of dairy. Build your party plate in a similar fashion (except maybe allow the dairy to be filled with a dessert)! Even if you pile your plate high, that one trip to the buffet will result in less calories consumed than if you went back multiple times.

Sit next to your slow eating friends.  

When we eat with others, we tend to mimic the speed that they eat.  Fast eating friend? Not only will you eat faster, but you will eat more.  Research also states the larger the group we eat with, the more we will eat. When we eat at a table for 4 versus a table of 1, we will eat 75% more.  This does not mean we should give thanks by eating solo, but a reminder to be mindful of the effect that eating with others has on our own eating habits.

Think 20% less.

Dish out 20% less than you think you might want before you start a meal. Research tells us that our stomach won’t miss 20%, but when we cut out more, it will notice! On the other hand, dish out 20% more vegetables. If you cut your pasta by 20%, but increase your veggies by 20%, visually, your plate will look full, but will hold fewer calories.

2. Maintain structure:

There is no doubt that holidays present celebratory chaos with gift shopping, school breaks and hosting/attending parties. With this change in your everyday schedule, do your best to keep up with similar meal times and exercise routines. Bring healthy snacks to fuel errands.

Exercise is probably one of your most important holiday helpers.  It lessens holiday stress, provides an energy boost on darker winter days, AND balances out unplanned sugar cookies.

3. Cut yourself some slack:

Most likely there will be some splurges, cut yourself some slack.  Seasonal slip ups are going to occur, but those who get back on the healthy eating train quickly, are those who will maintain their weight come New Years.

This Thanksgiving, not only are we grateful for our blessings, but we can also be thankful for the bounty of food we are able to enjoy. Appreciate each bite, savor it, and remember the celebrations are about friends and family, the food is just an added bonus!

Cranberry Vinaigrette:

cran viniagrette

This festive salad dressing transforms canned cranberry into a sweet & tangy topping for any green salad.


1/2 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt


To prepare the vinaigrette, place the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.