How to Survive the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

Abel Eats Pie

Every year, the talking heads, magazines, and fitness gurus say that you’d better eat skinless turkey breast out of Tupperware if you don’t want to pack on the pounds during the holidays.

“Control your portions… dodge desserts… and eat low-fat gravy products!” they chirp.

That doesn’t sound like any fun. I say go out and enjoy yourself.

In fact, I insist. Pour some gravy out for me.

In this blog post, I’m going to explain how you can have your cake (and eat it, too).

“But the holidays always make me fat!”

Research, rumor, and anecdotal evidence predicts that we’ll each gain between 1-10 lbs. over the holidays. And we believe it, given the nutmeggy amazingness wafting in from the kitchen, the Christmas cookies, the cocktails, the pies… mmm pie.

We promise ourselves to be “disciplined this year” and vow to dodge all the desserts… then we drink a couple cocktails, polish off the pumpkin pie, and feel guilty and fat for the rest of the month.

Why? Instead of being proactive about holiday decision-making we react after the damage has been done.

mmm christmas cookies

Why do we overeat during the holidays?

When family is close, drama isn’t far behind, and suddenly that jug of eggnog looks especially cuddly. Emotional eating ensues.

Food gets personal. Many a family member and friend will question your decisions if ancestral, Wild, or paleo eating isn’t “normal” or “healthy” in their worldview. In most cases, our family members want what’s best for us. They also think they know what’s best for us.

“What’s wrong with you? You’ve always loved fruitcake!”

(No, you didn’t.)

You’ll take some flack for politely declining your Aunt Nelly’s fruitcake – bless her heart for making it for you – but if you don’t want to eat it, you don’t have to.


Remember, you always have a choice – you have 100% free agency over every morsel that crosses your lips. If you don’t enjoy the heck out of what you eat, there’s no point in stuffing it down your gullet.

Tricksie Christmas Cookies

How to enjoy the holidays without getting a Santa-belly

  • Focus on satiety: During the big meals focus on eating to get full, not stuffed. You don’t need to be counting calories or analyzing the ingredients, just chill out and load your plate up with 80-90% meats and veggies – foods that will satisfy you – then leave a little room to have a treat or two. If your meal satisfies you, you’ll be much less likely to overeat.
  • Know your trigger foods: acknowledge which foods might trigger a binge episode and eat something else instead.
  • Plan to indulge, but not to the point of sickness: Plan to indulge and eat your favorite foods, but dedicate yourself to enjoying the process, not fearing what might happen. Plan to eat a cookie or two, savor them, then move on. Planning to indulge eliminates anxiety, reduces guilt, and allows for a balanced to eating and drinking.
  • Separate your emotions from food: The holidays are stressful. Don’t use food to cope. In your plan, figure out what you’re going to do when something stresses you out. How about a relaxing walk? A spot o’ tea? A Will Ferrell movie? Whatever you do, don’t impulse-grab at a plate of cookies and shove them in your face. Not worth it.
  • Relax and enjoy yourself: Be merry. Good vibes are contagious.

Here’s the best way to plan your holiday meals

Eat the best healthy real, Wild, wholesome foods you can find, and leave some wiggle room for a few of your favorite treats.

Fill up in this order:

  • Fibrous, colorful veggies
  • Formidable portions of protein (it won’t make you fat, I promise)
  • Whole-food fats
  • Everything else (even a treat or two)

With a proactive approach – a plan and the right mindset – I bet you won’t gain a pound. And remember, if you do overeat or “accidentally” binge on cookies, use that food energy to fuel a killer workout. You may even build some muscle. Play outside, get your pump on, or hit the slopes and ride your sugar high down the mountain. Be active and use the cookie calories for good, not evil.

But even if you do gain a pound or two, never fear! You know where to find me. 🙂

Want a few wholesome dessert recipes for the holidays?

Our new app is here! Give it a whirl – the Bacon Bourbon Apple Pie is quite tasty, I must say.

Gluten Free Desserts App

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Download on the App Store


What do you do to stay lean during the holidays? Leave your comment below.

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  1. Amen to the family stress part! The hardest thing for me is resisting that first taste. Whenever I see something that looks delicious, I just want a small taste. I’ve gotten better recently at limiting myself to that one bite… but I’m pretty sure this is just playing with fire… since one small bite is all it takes to switch that flip in my brain to say ahhh what the heck.. and eat the whole thing.

    • Very true – that first bite can be dangerous. But you folks will all be happy to know that I took my own advice yesterday and “accidentally” ate my face off and had a killer workout. Sore today but going for a nice hike this afternoon with friends and the pooch… after I eat a big ol’ slice of buttered banana bread, that is. 🙂

  2. Loved what you and Jimmy were talking about also about “When in Rome!”

    It’s still hard for me to let myself go when I’m on vacation because I’m so scared of screwing everything i’ve worked so hard for… but i think you guys are right. For my overall mental well being, it’s just better not to be so hard on myself.

  3. Thank goodness the holiday season has come to an end! The temptations will be much less now. I always struggle with upsetting family members by not indulging in the delicious snacks that they bring or offer as a present. Not to mention that they are already tempting enough. Maybe setting an example by sticking with the diet will give them the hint for years to come. Thanks for the post!

  4. Justin-credible says:

    “Pour some gravy out for me.” Haha!! Well played, Able. That’s good stuff(ing). Have an awesome Thanksgiving. Thanks for all of your hardwork, time, and valuable information.

  5. Frank P. Montenegro says:

    Man I love this kid!! He just gets it! And he does his absolute best to make sure we get it too! Mega kudos to you Abel!!

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