A Grinch balloon is in focus.
Don’t let the Grinch steal your weight-loss dreams. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Holidays are fun, festive and full of frolic.

But you know there’s a Grinch when you experience weight gain.

As happy little elves put the finishing touches on miniature train sets, you may be feeling anything but little this time of year. After a barrage of buffets and holiday happenings, it’s no wonder your waist is out of whack.

The ghost of Christmas feasts past whispers in your ear: “You can eat better after the holidays. Now is the time to indulge.”

But the days are cooler and not so inviting for a jog around the neighborhood. The parties are plentiful and full of fattening flavors.

And you, you’re stressed, and have a lot on your plate. Literally.

According to the National Institutes of Health, overeating during the holidays can lead to 1 to 2 pounds of weight gain. Granted, this time of year can be hyped and hectic, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to enjoy festive food while maintaining your weight and making healthy choices.

Just as the tiniest box under the tree contains a diamond ring, the smallest changes can make the biggest impact.

Some helpful tips for the days ahead:

  • Reality is relevant. Don’t go pie-in-the-sky or even sleigh-in-the-sky here. Your goals need to be realistic. If you vow to lose weight during the holidays, the Grinch will get you. It’s almost impossible. Instead, set a goal to maintain your current weight. That way, no one leaves the celebration disappointed.
  • Keep moving. Incorporate exercise into your day. Take a walk with friends to check out holiday decorations in your neighborhood. If there is snow, go sledding, cross country skiing or snow shoeing. Even shoveling your driveway can help conquer Christmas calories.
  • Steady as she goes. As tempting as it may be to “save up” calories for your big party, avoid skipping meals. Doing without dinner may lead to over-eating foods that are richer and higher in calories than what you would eat at home. Try snacking on vegetables or a piece of fruit before leaving for your party.
  • Remember the reason for the season. Food is a big part of holiday parties, but instead of making it your focus, remember why you’re really here—to catch up with friends and family and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Preplan your portions. Before you hit the buffet, decide what to put on your plate before you start filling it. Choose what you would like to sample and what you will avoid, and what your ‘must-haves’ will be. Go heavy on fruits and vegetables.
  • No table talk. Move your conversations away from the snack tables so you aren’t tempted to munch mindlessly while you talk with family and friends.
  • Gift the goodies. If your family tradition is to bake Christmas sweets, give them to neighbors or store them in the freezer so you can take out small portions at a time. Better yet, alter the tradition and make crafts instead of calories.
  • Sip slowly. Punch, eggnog and alcoholic beverages are fluid fatteners. Try sparkling water with fresh fruit instead.
  • Make choices. Eggnog or éclair? Chardonnay or cheesecake? Not both. Never all.