Are you already dreading the seemingly unavoidable holiday weight gain? While many of us love the delicious food and drinks, the fun parties and celebrations, and the lazy days that this season entails, we don’t necessarily like what these things do to our waistlines. Fortunately, gaining weight doesn’t have to be your reality.

At the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, we are committed to partnering with you to stay healthy in spirit, mind and body. Tennessee has one of the nation's highest diabetes rates, and we take that seriously. Preventing diabetes isn't just about eating less, it's about making lifestyle changes and creating healthier habits. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to practice these habits.

Here are 10 lifestyle tips to help you stay healthy and maintain your weight during the holiday season:

  1. Choose low-fat options. When preparing foods, use healthy substitutions whenever possible. Here's a healthier cranberry dish from our registered dietitian and some additional healthy Thanksgiving recipes
  2. Sign up for a holiday race with family and friends. Not only will you get some physical activity, but you'll also support your community. The Y's next race is the Frostbite 5k/10k, and you can check Nashville Striders Races for other local options.
  3. Avoid alcohol before meals. It inhibits your ability to make healthy choices. Instead, drink a glass of water to fill you up a little bit before you eat.
  4. Watch your portion sizes. Check out Calorie King or MyFitnessPal to calculate how much you’re actually eating.
  5. Keep second helpings in check. If you must go back for more, only pick two or three of your favorite items.
  6. Go for a walk. Instead of napping after your Thanksgiving feast, take a stroll with the family. You’ll burn some of those calories off and spend more quality time with loved ones.
  7. Bring something healthy to the table. If you’re going to a holiday party, take a nutritious dish with you so you know you’ll have at least one better-for-you option. Also, avoid standing near the buffet at the party to reduce the temptation!
  8. Make sleep a priority. You need the energy to choose healthy foods and to be physically active throughout the holidays.
  9. Don’t skip your regular workouts. Even if it’s only 15-30 minutes, getting your blood pumping for a little while does a world of good. Check out our fall fitness tips for ideas to shake up your workouts this season.
  10. Find ways to reduce your holiday stress. Stress increases the amount of cortisol in your body, which makes you feel hungrier and promotes fat storage. Try these stress-reducing tricks and take some advice on practicing gratitude from our chaplain.

Establish Healthy Habits with the Y

It's our mission to provide our members and communities with the resources and support they need to be healthy in spirit, mind and body. Learn more about our health and fitness resources.