How to avoid holiday weight gain? Weight loss during the holidays


Nagina Abdullah


December 22, 2013


Last year, I lost control during the holiday season. I thought being in the holiday spirit meant that I had to drink cider and hot chocolates, indulge in sweets and serve myself large helpings multiple times to be merry.

Keep reading if you:

  • Enjoy good food
  • Enjoy the holidays and time with your family and friends
  • Still want to achieve your weight goals

Most years, the holidays take control over me — and Im not repeating my mistakes this year.

To me, the holidays are the time of the year I can let loose, spend time with my friends and family, and feel relaxed. Every turn I take, there are chocolates, cookies and candy coated everything — at parties, work and family gatherings. I want to enjoy myself, and I used to think that also meant that I didn’t hold back what I eat.

Until I realized the consequences.

Unfortunately — and this is the reality — the holidays are a time of year that we can pack on significant extra pounds. It happened to me last year. I had a huge Thanksgiving meal, a gigantic Christmas Eve night, and an even bigger New Years Eve brunch. And a lot of chocolates, indulgent party dinners and warm buttery desserts and fried snacks in between.

I wanted to enjoy myself and let loose during the holidays.

But when January 1 came, I felt so bad about the results of my decisions. I was stuck with a real extra 5 pounds to lose beyond what I started the holidays with. My pants were tighter, my shirts were more fitted than I wanted, and I would have to be more focused than normal in the weeks ahead.

So this year, Im changing my ways. Im ENDING 2013 feeling positive and energetic. And I really want you to do it with me. Are you up to feeling great about yourself over the next 2 weeks?

Im still enjoying myself these holidays and I hope you are too – Im spending a lot of time with my kids, and Im hanging out with my family a lot. I’ll have my share of sweets and other treats, because it is the holidays and thats the kind of food thats around, but I’m not planning to give in to food unconditionally to have fun.

Im giving myself the gift to end 2013 feeling good about myself.

When 2014 starts, Ill already be on a positive note. I will know that I did a better job than last year. And thats a great win!

How to avoid holiday weight gain

I have a few strategies Im currently using on a daily basis which I want to share with you.

  1. Plan to eat without guilt: There are going to be some meals that I want to eat whatever I want. Im letting myself eat what I want without guilt during specific events. Over the next 2 weeks — pick 3 meals to eat whatever you want. My days are: Christmas Dinner, New Years Day Brunch and an extra meal which will just come up. There will be plenty of pecan pie slices topped with ice cream and my brother-in-laws delicious (and bottomless!) Godiva Chocolate liqueur cocktail going in my belly on those days. Other days, Im going to try my best not to go off track (but Im not perfect).
  2. Love and savor your indulgences: Make sure you really like what youre indulging in. Sometimes, the food on our plates is the food that youre supposed to eat for that event. Maybe theres a serving of mashed potatoes — but you dont really like mashed potatoes, or you dont really like THOSE mashed potatoes. Indulge in food you LOVE — not just any food thats available. This means that you dont want to indulge on everything — just a few select things.
  3. Try smaller portions than last year and eat slowly: With so much eye candy and food to eat, try the food, but just in smaller portions than you may have eaten last year (if youre like me and you overdid it last year). Have half of a biscuit, and a smaller scoop of noodles. Take 10-15 minutes after you have eaten to let it digest, and you will realize that youre not as hungry — and you WILL avoid feeling that dreadful super full feeling where you have to unbutton your pants before the night is over.
  4. Dont expect perfection from yourself: The holidays are hard to get through and stay healthy. Theres a lot of food that you dont get the rest of the year, and theres more time for many of us to hang out. Even if you plan, try to eat smaller portions, try to stay on track, there are going to be time that you just give in. Its ok.
  5. Have healthy comfort food around that you like to eat, like my 2 recipes below: Its a lot easier to maintain your weight and energy when you make healthy, comforting snacks or meals ahead of time that you want to eat. See my 2 easy recipe recommendations below for this holiday season.

Ill be here in the beginning of January to help you start the year off right, and give you some specific things you can do to stay in control. Happy Holidays!

Enjoy the Holidays with my Healthy Comfort Recipes

Masala Mixed Nuts

Make my Masala Mixed Nuts and have them around the house or bring them to a party — youll be happy, satisfied, feeling festive, and youll also be in control of yourself during the holidays. Ive been receiving a lot of great comments about my Masala Mixed Nuts — theyre a perfect holiday snack.

Masala Mixed Nuts

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Snack


  • 2 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (¼ teaspoon for less heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chaat masala (alternative: 2 teaspoons lemon pepper)  


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Drizzle olive oil over nuts in a mixing bowl.
  • Mix all spices in a small, separate bowl.
  • Pour spices over nuts and mix well together well with your hands or a spatula.
  • Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
  • Take out from oven and cool for 2 minutes.
  • Pack in a Ziploc bag and take with you when you're on the go.


Enjoy a handful for a mid-afternoon or pre-dinner snack!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Lamb kabobs: Great for holiday weight loss

My lamb kabobs are savory, tasty, and healthy. I use spices that help keep blood sugar low and increase metabolism, such as cinnamon and red chili powder. These are a comfort food and a great snack to have at parties and when family or friends come over along with hot sauce, ketchup or chutney. And theyre low sugar and low calorie – but others would never know since they taste so delicious!

Lamb Kabobs

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 25 kabobs


  • 2 pounds ground lamb (vegetarian alternative: Boca crumbles)
  • 4 - 6 serranos or Jalapeno peppers, chopped (based on your preference for spiciness)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 8 - 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons ginger chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (whole pieces)
  • 1 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala (or 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 1 teaspoon coriander powder)
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup long red onions, sliced (and or sliced radishes)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Knead lamb in bowl.
  • Combine all other ingredients in a separate small bowl, and then mix into lamb.
  • Roll mixture into large balls and place on cookie dough pan covered with foil. The balls will shrink when cooking so make them larger than you would like.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Turn kabobs over. Cook other side for 10-12 minutes. The kabobs will be brown all over, with no areas of pink, when they are done.
  • Remove from the oven, cool for a couple minutes, squeeze with lemon juice and garnish.


Serve with mint chutney, Sriracha sauce (or any other hot sauce) or ketchup. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!



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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

Reader Interactions


  1. Tulio says

    Sounds delicious Nagina! I’m going to use this to introduce lamb to my kids as well.

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