List Image

Holiday Success Tips

For many, the holidays mark a time for celebration, friends, family and food. Unfortunately, traditional holiday fare can be high in fat and calories. Not to worry, it's still possible to enjoy holiday cuisine without putting a damper on your weight loss goals. Take the focus of the holiday off food. Instead, take time to reunite with friends and family and enjoy the pleasures of the holiday.

While food is an important element of celebrating the season, it's not the only part. Know that you can entertain for the holidays and still stay on track with your weekly action plan.

To set yourself up for success, plan your entertaining events to include a combination of food and non-food activities. One benefit of hosting a seasonal celebration is that you can be in charge of both. This will make it easier to follow your meal plan - and you might even come up with your own creative holiday traditions! After all, holiday celebrations are people events at which food happens to be present—not the other way around!

Use these tips to get you started:


The key to successful entertaining is planning, and it helps to simplify, both in terms of meal planning and recipes.

  • Prepare your grocery list in advance and shop on a full stomach.
  • Chew sugarless gum while preparing and serving food and when storing leftovers.
  • Create hors d'oeuvres trays using colorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, figs, wild mushrooms, artichokes, chestnuts and acorn squash. Partner veggies with a low-fat dip served in scooped out bell peppers.
  • For a festive flair, plan to offer your favorite stew or soup served in a hallowed out mini-pumpkin, acorn squash or Yukon Gold potato.
  • Add fun and flavor to your menu by preparing some dishes from our Jenny Craig recipe library.
  • Food

    With careful planning and a little creativity, you can enjoy traditional holiday foods and still stick to a healthful eating plan.

  • Begin your meal with a vegetable salad.
  • Fill your plate with a variety of roasted, seasonal vegetables: carrots, mushrooms, acorn squash, eggplant and zucchini. Top vegetables with a splash of lemon juice or fresh herbs instead of butter.
  • Serve low-calorie beverages, such as sparkling water, iced tea or diet soda in fancy goblets. Add a splash of light cranberry juice to these drinks to give them some pizzazz.
  • Prepare a fresh fruit plate or salad for dessert. Festive winter fruits include pears, pomegranates, grapes, cranberries and clementines.
  • Trade butter sauces for healthier fats; sprinkle vegetable dishes with sliced almonds, chopped hazelnuts or olive halves.
  • Substitute lower-calorie ingredients when preparing your favorite traditional foods (refer to chart below).
  • Have calorie-free beverages or non-starchy vegetables handy to snack on if you are tempted to nibble while preparing food.
  • If you're like many, you think of the holidays as a time to take a break from your typical healthy habits. People often tend to go overboard this time of year, and then try to make up for it with a new rigorous routine in the New Year. You may be surprised to know that it's actually consistency of activity and diet, rather than a pattern of highs and lows, that supports long-term success.

    To help you keep consistent in the midst of holiday chaos, use these tips:

    Don't Skip Meals: You may be tempted to skip breakfast and "save" all of your calories for the big feast but you could be setting yourself up to overeat. Remember to have breakfast, lunch and a snack, and follow your menu plan for the day so that when dinner comes around, you won't be starving and more likely to overdo it.

    Plan for Social Situations: You can still enjoy social events while following your weight loss plan; it just takes some pre-planning. When going to a holiday party, offer to bring a vegetable platter so that you will have foods to munch on. If you are going out to eat, plan what you will eat ahead of time with our Meal Planner.

    Simplify Meal Planning: Choose from one of Jenny Craig's menus or hand-selected recipes to simplify meal planning. The recipes include nutritional information and take the guesswork out of figuring portions and food groups.

    Learn to Say No: Throughout your weight management program, you will have a variety of social occasions that require you to make decisions about food. It's important to know that it is okay to say no to an offer of food — don't think you're being rude or impolite. In fact, when you practice saying "no" to others, you begin to say "yes" to yourself, to the choices that serve your interests and take you closer to your goals. Keep your explanation short. Use the words "polite, reason, polite" as your mantra to close to door on any well-meaning, but potentially sabotaging, persuasion.

    Here is an example of PRP (Polite, Reason, Polite):

    Polite Response: "Thanks for offering, that dessert looks delicious!"

    Reason for Refusal: "Dinner was perfect and I couldn't manage another bite."

    Polite Response: "Maybe I'll have to try that delicious looking dessert next time."

    Enjoy a Splurge: A splurge may be just enough indulgence for that special occasion. A splurge is equal to 250 calories. You can enjoy an occasional splurge and still continue to maintain consistent weight loss. To balance out a splurge, add a "spurt" of extra activity. See the table below for ideas to keep your weight loss on a consistent path throughout the season.

    Here are some examples of foods and activities that can count as a splurge during this holiday season:

    **All of these foods contain ~ 250 calories, and these activities will burn ~ 250 calories (based on a 200 lb person)

    Brownie (4" square, unfrosted)

    Dancing, 50 minutes

    2 oz. piece of fudge, no nuts

    Swimming, 25 minutes

    1 slice (1/8 of pie) light pumpkin pie

    Mall walking (4 mph), 30 minutes

    Tall nonfat mocha w/whipped cream

    Running (6 mph), 15 minutes

    1 dinner roll w/ 1 tsp butter or margarine

    Skiing (downhill), 25 minutes

    1/2 cup low-fat egg nog with 1 1/2 oz. rum

    Ice skating, 20 minutes

    5 oz. white wine and two 2-inch pieces bruschetta

    Walking the dog (3 mph), 50 minutes

    1 oz. or 10 potato chips and 12 oz. light beer

    Raking leaves, 40 minutes

    2 (4 oz.) glasses of champagne

    Playing tennis, 30 minutes