Ask Arlene: Holiday Weight Management



Like most people, I gain weight over the holiday season. What can I do to prepare and manage my weight through the Christmas season?


Dear Stacy,

My family likes to joke about the treacherous eating season between Halloween candy and Christmas day. Without some intervention, we are all bound to gain a few pounds between now and January 1st … thus the popularity and necessity of the New Year’s resolution!

One place you can fight the battle of the bulge is at the grocery store. The next time you go grocery shopping, try doing these two things to improve your odds of winning:

  1. Do not go shopping when you are hungry. As you know, you’ll be more vulnerable to buy whatever looks good which usually isn’t broccoli.
  2. Do not buy any holiday treats for yourself. Believe me you will have plenty of indulgences at parties, lunches, outings, and just by eating the samples at Costco! Look carefully at the contents of your shopping cart before you check out. Look at each food item and ask yourself, “How will this benefit my body? How will this damage my body? Is it worth the calories?”

What about Christmas baking? Maybe baking is an important part of your Christmas tradition. Maybe you have an office full of people waiting for your famous snickerdoodles. Well then, bake for a specific purpose. Know who is going to get the cookies and don’t have many leftovers. If you bake six dozen cookies and only need three dozen to give away, you know what’s going to happen? They are going to go to your waistline. Not very many people can resist eating homemade cookies, so don’t put yourself in that position.

Force yourself to freeze the cookies if you have extra. Don’t eat them until a pre-determined date (you can write this on the freezer bag) or a pre-determined weight or size. For instance, “No eating until I am 150 lbs” etc.

Since you’ll be inevitably eating more sweets, make time in your schedule to ramp up the exercise. Maybe add one more workout to your week or intensify your current workout. If you walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, walk for 40 minutes. December is a great time to try a new workout class at the gym or put that piece of exercise equipment to use (you know, the one that’s doubling as a clothes hanger right now).

To keep it real, I admit holiday eating is about ebb and flow. Some days, you just eat too much. Instead of staying on that weight gaining trajectory, you’ve got to hold back on other days. On the days where you don’t have a Christmas party to go to, plan to snack on apples and eat salad and chicken for meals. Deprive your sweet tooth on some days so you can satisfy it on others.

I think a great goal is to maintain your weight throughout the holidays. If you can do that, pat yourself on the back! You’ve accomplish a difficult task!


In her monthly column, “Ask Arlene,” author and speaker Arlene Pellicane answers readers’ questions. If you have a question you’d like her to consider for this column, submit a question here.
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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on The Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit

  • Great advice, Arlene! As someone who had a wake-up call on the scale this morning, this is exactly what I needed to hear. :)

  • I know…those wake up calls are tough! I am with you Sarah! :)

  • I love the advice to fight the bulge at the grocery store. I need to practice that more. I’m learning that if I have it in the house, I’m more than likely to eat it.

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Ask Arlene: Holiday Weight Management

by Arlene Pellicane time to read: 2 min