How to not gain weight over the holidays

So December is here which means Christmas (and Santa) is coming! It’s the time of year we all like to enjoy ourselves and perhaps eat and drink a little more than usual. But with all this excess eating and drinking we need to know how to not gain weight over the holidays. I certainly don’t want to get to January and feel like a beached whale!

Festive dinner

For most of us we don’t even know how many calories we consume on Christmas Day. So without knowing how can we try to cut some of those calories out in our attempts to not gain weight over the holidays? The first part of this article will be giving you some hard truths that you may not want to hear, but once you know how much you’re over eating on Christmas Day only then can you start to think about eating smarter. I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself, far from it. I’ll be giving you some neat tricks to cut your calories so you don’t gain weight over the holidays.

So first of all what is the issue?


Why do we gain weight over the holidays

This is going to be different for different people. But it’s usually down to

  • Over eating in general
  • Eating high fat and high calorie foods like mince pies, chocolates, and cheese
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Not being very active

It could be down to one of these things or it could be down to a few of them or all of them. For me it’s a bit of all.


Holidays over eating

Christmas Day we consume 6,000 calories! Lady looking confused and surprised

On average, we consume around 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. This is about 2-3 times as much as the average person should have in a day (around 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men).

I burn about 260 calories if I go for an hour’s walk, that’s a lot of walking to burn off 6,000 calories. 23 hours to be precise! About 2,000 calories is our Christmas dinner alone! The other 4,000 calories is all the alcohol we drink, sweet treats we eat and cheese we munch on to finish off the night.


Eating high fat & high calorie foods

Even if we didn’t over eat over Christmas and just stuck to our three meals a day the chances are not all those three meals will be healthy. A fry up as a treat breakfast or left over turkey in a curry with thick, creamy sauce served with rice and naan bread. It all adds up. Let’s look at what’s in our favourite holiday treats:

Mince pies - high in calories and fat making you gain weight over the holidays

  • One mince pie – 209 calories, 7.3g of fat. Vegan mince pies are even worse at 231 calories and 8.9g of fat!
  • 30g of Stilton – 123 calories, 10.5g of fat. And 30g isn’t a lot of cheese, it’s more likely we’ll consume over 100g of cheese on Christmas Day! Violife vegan cheese is better at 81 calories and 6.3G of fat per 30g
  • One piece of Christmas pudding, around 100g contains 329 calories and 8.2g of fat. Top it off with 100ml of thick brandy cream and you’re looking at another 130 calories and 11.9g of fat!
  • Pigs in blankets – 100g (about 6-7 pigs) contain 310 calories and 25g of fat. The vegan alternative from Waitrose is 181 calories and 8.1g of fat per 100g.
  • Turkey crown – 100g contains 129 calories and 3.8g of fat. 100g of nut roast contains around 244 calories and 13.2g of fat. Nut roasts are higher in calories and fat because they have a high nut content.
  • 250g of roast potatoes cooked in olive oil with a little flour contain around 391 calories and 23g of fat. That’ll be the same for us vegans, there must be a way to make healthier roasties!?


Drinking a lot of alcohol over the holidays

Also know as “liquid cake” alcohol can really pile on the pounds over the holidays, with wine and beer both being high in calories. And because alcohol doesn’t fill us up like food does it’s easy to just drink and drink and drink! Let’s look at what’s in some of our favourite drinks:

Red wine being poured into a glass - drink less alcohol to not gain weight over the holidays

  • Red wine – A large 250ml glass of 13% red wine can contain up to 228 calories
  • White wine – A large 250ml glass of Chardonnay is about 203 calories
  • Lager – A pint of San Miguel is 206 calories
  • Baileys Irish cream – One 50ml serving contains 127 calories and 7.84g of fat
  • Eggnog – 250ml of home made eggnog contains around 362 calories and 20.1g of fat, wow!


Not being very active. Not helping with the holiday weight gain!

Is everyone keeping up their 3 times a week at the gym routine over Christmas? Probably not. And whilst exercise isn’t as much of a contributing factor to weight gain than diet is, exercising over the holidays can certainly help us to keep in better shape. The same as not exercising is not great for us.

Someone jumping - being more active helps to not gain weight over the holidays

  • A workout burns anything from 150 – 500 calories. That could be one mince pie or 6 pigs in blankets. You’re not burning off your whole Christmas dinner but it’s something at least.
  • The more we eat and drink over the holidays the less exercise we feel like doing. Which is no surprise if we’re fueling our bodies with all that saturated fat, not the best fuel for a workout.
  • It’s too easy to say “I’ll be good in January”. The reason we all struggle with our diet and exercise at the start of the year is because we do nothing over the holiday and eat so badly.


How to not gain weight over the holidays

There are a few things you can do to minimise your weight gain over the holidays. You might still gain a bit of weight but it shouldn’t be as much. Here’s what you can do:


Have a vegan Christmas

The word green lit up

With many vegan foods being lower in calories and fat and higher in fibre (which fills you up for longer) than their animal product equivalents you could reduce your calorie intake. If you don’t know where to start with going vegan this article might be helpful.


Make swaps

Swap your high calorie beer and wine for low alcohol beer and wine instead, the lower the alcohol percentage the lower the calories. A 175ml glass of 12.5% red wine has about 124 calories. Compare that to the same size glass of 14% red wine which contains around 155 calories. That’s 31 calories per glass, that’s a good calorie saving just be changing your wine.


Roast potatoes

When cooking your roast potatoes swap olive oil and goose fat for light oil sprays like fry light instead. At 1 calorie per spray it’s much healthier than 120 calories per tablespoon of olive oil or 90 calories per tablespoon for goose fat.

Drink a spirit and a low calorie/ zero calorie mixer

Whiskey or rum and Diet Coke is about 50-70 calories per 25ml measure with the mixer. That’s a lot less than beer and wine at around 200 calories per drink!


Keep the exercise up

Even if your usual routine is hammering it at the gym for 2 hours at a time, even going for a long walk every day over Christmas will burn some of that Christmas dinner off and keep you active. It’ll also make you less likely to eat badly on the remaining days of the holiday, why would you undo your hard work by coming back from your long walk and drinking 5 pints of beer and having party food for dinner!? For some easy walking workouts have a look here.


So, do you think you’ll gain weight over the holidays this year?

Hand up with no written on palm of hand

I hope the answer is no. 2020 has been a pretty rubbish year for most of us what with the Covid-19 pandemic and all but it’s not a reason to eat so unhealthy you give yourself a heart attack in 2021.

I’m certainly going to be enjoying some nice (vegan) food and drinks over the holidays, but as I don’t want to be working my butt off til Easter (that’s how long it can take!) repairing the damage I’ve done I’ll be doing a lot of walking and enjoying things in moderation. For the benefits of going vegan click here.

Let me know your plans for staying on track over the holidays by commenting below.

Merry Christmas


6 thoughts on “How to not gain weight over the holidays

  • Marita
    December 14, 2020 at 11:54 pm


    You’ve got good advice here. It’s really hard to say NO to more than the required amount of food for Christmas. We tend to overeat and indulge. I’m guilty of this, unfortunately.

    I’m not a vegan but I try to eat more fruits and veggies, rather than meat. I love to eat fish, BTW.

    I definitely will try to exercise more, maybe walk and do the treadmill, while working from home.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


    • Katie
      December 15, 2020 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Marita thanks for your comment. I’m definitely guilty of not saying no either, I think we all are! Exercise and walking will help though, especially if you’re working from home.

      Merry Christmas 


  • Josh
    December 15, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Hello. Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful piece. It simply was well well constructed, detailed and easy to get by, I enjoyed about every bit of this article. Christmas times are really a great time, but we truly must control how much we eat, drink. And exercises too goes a long way. Thanks for this one

    • Katie
      December 15, 2020 at 6:54 am

      Hi Josh

      Glad you liked the article. Have a great Christmas.


  • Nuttanee
    December 15, 2020 at 12:04 am

    The holiday season is here and I think we all can agree that many good food will be around us and that means so many temptations will be around us as well! The last thing that we want is to gain weight am I right? I agree, in order for us to fix something, we at least have to acknowledge the truth.

    I know for the fact that I gain weight during the holidays is because of drinking alcoholic drinks and also eat a lot of decadent foods. I guess I will have to cut down my lager and drink spirits instead. Also eat more veggies.

    Happy holidays!

    • Katie
      December 15, 2020 at 6:52 am

      Hi Nuttanee 

      Thanks for commenting. It is hard to get the balance right over Christmas, especially as 2020 hasn’t been the best year and we want to let our hair down. But those small changes that you mentioned like swapping lager for a spirit and mixer will make a difference.

      Merry Christmas


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