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Blocking Holiday Weight Gain

How do I keep from gaining weight over the holidays?

Nashville, Ark. –

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Let’s face it, the holidays are a time to eat and be merry! If you are working from home due to Covid-19, it is even more difficult not to put on extra pounds! Most Americans do put on a few extra pounds over the holiday season. Unfortunately, studies show that many of them never get rid of those extra pounds. Is there anything you can do to avoid extra pounds during this time of the year? Yes, there is. Obstacles to living healthy during the holidays can be overcome.

            Whether you are working from home or still at the worksite, you are busy – busy with your work routine, family routines, finding time to put up decorations, shopping (whether online or in person), or preparing meals. Many people feel they have little time for cooking or shopping for groceries, so they rely more than ever on fast food restaurants, eating out or frozen meals. Unfortunately, these meals tend to be high in fat and consist mainly of two food groups: meats and starchy foods like bread and potatoes. Studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables satisfy their hunger and eat far fewer calories.

            While this does take time, take a couple of hours and sit down to plan out your meals for the next few weeks. You will actually save time in the long run, by knowing what you will be eating and having those items on hand instead of having to make daily trips to the grocery store. By planning ahead and making meals at home, you can save money and include fruits and vegetables which are the main stay of the MyPlate method of eating healthy.

            On those nights you know you will be short on time, plan to fix quick meals such as stir fry or make your own sub sandwiches. Vegetable soup prepared with frozen vegetables is another healthy option.

            Another obstacle in weight control during the holidays occurs when we use food as a way to cope with the season’s stress and emotions. Covid-19 has increased our stress levels and you may find yourself snacking more because of it. Become aware of those urges to eat that are unrelated to hunger. When tense and anxious, soothe yourself with music, a hot shower or a read a good book. If you’re tired, take a 10-minute power nap or take a walk around the neighborhood to rejuvenate yourself.

            Don’t forget your regular exercise routines during the holidays. Don’t let other priorities crowd out this important part of your schedule. Even if you must make some changes because of time constraints or you prefer not to go to the gym, there are ways to exercise. Look for opportunities for short bouts of walking. For example, park your car away from the store when shopping and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

            What about special once-a-year holiday foods? Realistically, the odds of maintaining your weight are small if you have a serving of everything that is offered. Be discriminating, choose two or three items to prepare and stick with them instead of trying to make numerous holiday goodies.

            When you do indulge, don’t fall into the pattern of deciding that now that you’ve “blown it” you may as well eat a lot more. Begin damage control immediately! Stop after one treat and things won’t get out of hand. If you know you’ll have a few extra holiday sweets, cut back on other sugar-laden items like soft drinks, specialty coffee drinks, doughnuts, and pastries. Mindless calories add up fast!

            Choose low calorie or no calorie drinks whenever possible. Increase your intake of water to help you feel full without adding calories. Drink calories add up quickly, so be aware of what you are drinking.

            Instead of food, focus on the joy of sharing the holiday season with family and friends rather than allowing food and stressful “to do” lists to dominate the season. Extra weight gain does not have to be one of the gifts of the holiday season.

            For more information on healthy holiday foods or eating closer to the dietary guidelines check out the website or contact the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Cucumber Yogurt Dip Recipe

            This recipe is great to have on hand. It is also an easy way to add more fresh vegetables to your day! Check out more healthy recipes at

2 large cucumbers

2 cups plain yogurt, low-fat

1/2 cup sour cream, non-fat

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh dill

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup baby carrots

  1. Peel, seed, and grate one cucumber.
  2. Slice other cucumber and set aside.
  3. Mix grated cucumber, yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and garlic in a serving bowl.
  4. Chill for 1 hour.
  5. Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, and carrots on a colorful platter. Serve with dip.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts per Serving: Calories 100, Total fat 1.5g, Saturated fat 1g, Sodium 120mg, Protein 6g

Print this Cucumber Yogurt Dip recipe





By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.