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Maintain, don't gain this holiday season

Adventist Health Fitness, Recipes

Christmas season is upon us! Thanksgiving has come and gone and the challenge now begins - how do I maintain my weight during this holiday season? What healthy steps can I take during holiday parties, catering, and more?

Did you know the average American gains over a pound during the holiday season? These pounds could add up! While it may not seem like a lot...the average American doesn't lose this pound. It may explain the average weight gain of 1-2 pounds a year for middle-aged individuals. The same study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that the individuals who weighed more at the start of the study, were more likely to experience a "major" holiday weight gain of 5 pounds or more.

Tips to keep the weight off this season

Take the edge off your hunger before a party. Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower, so eat a small, low-fat snack such as fruit or a hand-full of nuts before you head out the door. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive.

Make just one trip to the party buffet. Choose only the foods you really want to eat and keep portions small. Fill up your plate one time, rather than planning on numerous small trips through the buffet - the calories can add up quickly! And first place the healthy options like vegetables and fruit on your plate, limiting the room available on the plate for only a few of the high-calorie options! Often just a taste satisfies a food craving or curiosity. Also, move your socializing away from the buffet table to eliminate unconscious nibbling.

Meet and greet. Conversation is calorie-free. Get a beverage (try sparkling water and a lime twist rather than a punch or sweetened beverage) and settle into the festivities by catching up with old friends and making new ones.

One a day. Limit yourself to one treat a day! If you know you are attending a party later in the day, save your treat for the party, rather than having a pastry or donut for breakfast! If you are attending a brunch buffet, treat yourself at the end, and know that at dinner that evening, a salad or lighter fare would be your best choice.

Some Recipe Ideas:

  • Try using hummus instead of a traditional ranch dip on your relish platter! This adds fiber and a bit of protein!
  • If it's cold out and raw vegetables don't sound inviting, trying preparing a roasted vegetable platter using zucchini, bell peppers, yellow squash, onions, asparagus, yam wedges and more! Serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
  • Trying to use up the leftover canned pumpkin? Substitute pumpkin puree for oil in your brownies or cake! For each half cup of oil removed, you can save more than 900 calories and decrease the fat!

And what is an idea for a low-calorie, plant-based item?

Cumin-Spiced Carrot Phyllo Cups Recipe


  • 1.5 pounds carrots, baby or whole cut into smaller sections
  • 2 each garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup cilantro, fresh
  • 2 tbsp mint, fresh
  • 32 each mini phyllo cups (available in the freezer section at the grocery store)


  1. Steam the carrots until tender and drain well.
  2. In a food processor, place the carrots, garlic, and spices. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, incorporating it into a smooth dip.
  3. Transfer the dip into a piping bag, or use a spoon to fill the phyllo cups/shells.
  4. Garnish with freshly minced cilantro and mint.