Tips and Tools to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays

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Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and many are gearing up for the big day. This time of year we are busy making holiday plans or deciding on a menu for our Thanksgiving feast. Whatever this holiday season may be bringing your way, we have many tips and tricks to help focus this season on enjoying fellowship rather than a growing waist line.

First and foremost is participating in the Holiday Challenge. This year we have two locations that will be offering the challenge throughout Sampson County. One will be at the Sampson County Extension Office where you can participate every Monday, beginning November 13th, in weekly weigh-ins. The other location is the Center for Health and Wellness. This location will be taking weigh-ins on Wednesdays, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-6 p.m. We ask that you choose one location to participate, as they will be offering the same handouts, recipes, and incentives each week. You can also attend our Holiday Challenge kick-off Wednesday, November 15th at 5:30 p.m. at the Center for Health and Wellness to find out more information about the challenge.

Tools to help you with the Holiday Challenge include weighing in weekly. If you decide to participate in the challenge from home, there is a weight log available on the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less website which will be referenced at the end of the article. Weighing in weekly helps you stay on track throughout the challenge.

Another tool is using a food and physical activity tracking log. These logs help you to be mindful of the foods you are eating each day and the amount of time you are spending on physical activity. Studies have shown that people who plan and track their eating tend to plan different strategies to increase fruit, vegetable, and fiber consumption, plan strategies to decrease dietary fat, and have healthier diets (Anderson, Winett, & Wojcik, 2007). There are trackers on the holiday challenge, as well as tons of great websites and apps available to help you track food and physical activity such as the SuperTracker, MyFitnessPal, or LoseIt.

When you join the Holiday Challenge you receive weekly tips and strategies to help you eat smart, move more, and maintain your weight. Incorporate the Daily Tips into your every day routine and try out some of the healthy holiday recipes. There are also healthy recipe ingredient substitutions to put a healthier spin on your favorite dishes. These include choosing leaner cuts of meat, substituting olive oil for butter, using low-fat/non-fat cheese, opting for at least 85% or greater cocoa chips or dried fruit for regular chocolate chips, and many more! Check out the website sourced below for additional healthier substitutions.

Visit for more information on the tools listed above. You can also join the Holiday Challenge by signing up online at To stay up-to-date on the Holiday Challenge in Sampson County, visit our website at and click on the Maintain Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge under Available Programs on the Family & Consumer Sciences tab. You can also call Sydney Johnson, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent at 910-592-7161 or at