You are currently viewing A No-Restriction Holiday Eating Guide You’ll Actually Enjoy

A No-Restriction Holiday Eating Guide You’ll Actually Enjoy

How to Lose Weight Over the Holidays

By: Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN

Trying to lose weight during the holiday season may seem impossible.

If you’re worried about weight loss heading into the new year, know this: You can absolutely enjoy the holidays while still losing weight.

How? Here are some holiday weight loss tips that don’t involve restriction!

How to Lose Weight Over the Holidays

Sure, diet and exercise plans work great… until we hit that first holiday party. That’s when we feel like “giving up” until January 1st.


You’ve been following your winter weight loss eating plan, and today’s the party. What do you do?

  • Get a workout in (or at least some physical activity).
  • Make breakfast and lunch a little lighter. And/or have meals that are full of fiber, lean protein and a little bit of healthy fat.
  • Eat 30-90 minutes before the party. Time your meals so you head to the party on a full stomach (or at least, not an empty stomach).

A filling pre-party meal (~500 calories):

  • ½ turkey sandwich (whole grain bread, sliced turkey, 1 slice cheese)
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 8 oz skim milk
  • 1 apple with 1 Tbsp nut butter

Appetizers & Alcohol

Why do we get so full on appetizers?! Oh yeah… the talking, fun, drinking and showing up hungry. After you greet everyone, what do you do?

  • Alternate between alcohol and water. Yes, we all love delicious holiday drinks. Start with a drink and then sip on water before you grab another drink.
  • Only munch on appetizers when you’re drinking water. Triple-win! You stay hydrated with zero calories, you get to eat yummy food and you delay calories from alcohol.

Holiday Dinner

Dinner shouldn’t be a time when you’re stressed and guilty about what you’re eating. So, what do you do?

  • Only drink water with dinner. You had alcohol before dinner and you can have some after. You’re not missing out!
  • Leave a 3-inch perimeter around your food. Most dinner plates are 12-14 inches. Only place food in the center, leaving a few inches of empty space to frame your food.
  • Let yourself have “seconds.” It’s the holidays! Grab extras on a snack or dessert plate.

Holiday Dessert

There are a couple ways to go about holiday desserts. But, remember that a holiday party is just 1 day (maybe 3-4) out of a whole year, so don’t stress too much.

  • If you’re not a sweets person, just go with a drink. Keep alternating between alcohol and water like before.
  • Have 2-3 small dessert items, and then take a break. Wait about 20 minutes. Drink water, open presents, change into pajamas, just talk… If you’ve still got a sweet tooth, then grab a few more small desserts.

The Bottom Line

Yes, the holiday season seems long and calorie-rich.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising and eat only high-calorie meals from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

There’s a lot of time in between to stick to your weight loss plan. Plus, a few holiday parties will not “make or break” your weight loss outcomes.