Qsymia Advantage logo
You should always consult with your healthcare provider before
introducing any changes to your diet or level of physical activity.

Living Well : Support and Motivation

Holiday Eating

The holidays can pose a real challenge to your weight-loss plan. But you can stay on track and still celebrate in style!

Enjoy the holidays and still stay fit!

For many families, the holidays mean food! Thanksgiving stuffing, latkes, and Christmas cookies make their appearance at this time of year. It can be hard to stick to your eating habits around the holidays since so many events are focused on food. You may feel pressured to eat more or to try some of everything.

As the holidays approach, you may be tempted to ease up a bit on your weight-loss efforts. People tend to eat more during the holidays and most gain a bit of weight. Overweight people tend to gain more weight and have a harder time losing it when the holidays have passed. If you let your good habits slide too far, you may have a hard time getting back on track. So it is important to stay on guard this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. If you’re consistent in your good habits, you could have room to enjoy your favorite holiday treats.

Plan ahead and stay on track

Snack smart. Try not to let yourself get too hungry–you may overeat. You could have a small, high-fiber snack before a big meal; an apple or a cup of vegetable soup can help ease your hunger before a meal. If you know you will be busy with holiday errands, you could pack a healthy snack so you won’t get too hungry before your next meal. You could try a small serving of dried fruit and a few nuts, or an apple and low-fat string cheese. Nonperishable foods can also be kept at hand when you need them; you could keep some dried fruit in the glove compartment of your car so you won’t be tempted to stop for fast food instead. If you have a healthy snack nearby, it can help you make good choices on the go and save you time and money.

Plan ahead. Perhaps on the weekend, you’ll go to your cousin’s tree-trimming party. If you know you love her amazing cranberry cheesecake, plan ahead! Watch what you eat in the course of the week; if you’re careful, you may “save” some calories for the weekend. You may have a sensible portion of the cheesecake and still stay on track with your weight-loss program.

If there are several choices on the table, take a look at what’s offered before you choose. If it’s the roast you really want, and it fits with your healthcare provider-approved meal plan, have some; but try to skip other high-calorie foods you might not enjoy as much. In their place, you could try some roasted vegetables or a salad with low-fat dressing. If you plan to go to a party where there might not be healthy options, ask the host if you can help by bringing something that is part of your diet; perhaps a salad or some veggie sticks and a low-fat dip.

Be polite but firm when you say no. You may not want to turn down your aunt’s famous pecan pie or your brother’s prize-winning bacon dip. You might fear that it will hurt their feelings or it will ruin everyone else’s fun if you don’t indulge. It’s OK to say no!

Think of situations where you’ll feel pressured to eat more. Practice how you might say “No, thank you” in that setting. Perhaps your aunt always pushes you to have one more slice of her pecan pie. You might say, “Your pie is so good, I look forward to a slice every year! But one slice is enough for me, thank you.” If you make it clear how much you enjoy her pie, you can make sure she feels appreciated and still stand firm in your decision to have just one slice.

If you need more help saying no, review our ideas for resisting the pressure to eat. Or you may have a friend or a relative who wants to help but doesn’t know how. Try sharing some of tips for how they can help without meddling.

Watch what you drink. Food may not be the only holiday hazard. The holidays are also a time when many people like to drink. If your healthcare provider approves, it’s OK to have a drink now and then. But be careful: the calories in beer and wine can add up to a lot in the course of an evening; some mixed drinks can push the calories through the roof. What’s more, when you drink, it can affect your self-control, making it harder to watch what you eat and stay on track. Enjoy yourself, but try to drink in moderation.

Use a food planner and tracker. A food planner and tracker can help you stay on track. It’s always important to record everything you eat, but be extra vigilant during the holidays! Studies have shown that when you are aware of challenges and stay true to your self-monitoring rituals, you can keep losing weight even on holidays. In fact, people who’ve kept weight off for 6 years or longer are likely to be more careful on holidays than they are the rest of the year.

To learn more, review the Q and Me articles about the value of weighing yourself, and using a food planner and tracker.

Keep moving!

Stay active. It can be hard to stay active around the holidays. Often, the weather is cold, and rain or snow may make an outdoor walk unpleasant. At the same time, you may be busier than normal—but remember, each bit of activity counts!

It may be cold outside, but you can still take part in outdoor activities. For example, you could dress in lightweight layers that breathe; this can keep you warm on your walks. Boots with good traction can help you keep your footing on icy sidewalks. Most sporting goods stores have clothes that can keep you warm in cold weather, and some fabrics draw the sweat away so you stay dry, too. For more tips on how to dress for comfort when you walk, see our article on how to make walking fun.

You could also add more physical activity into the things you already do. For instance, you could park farther from the mall when holiday shopping; or walk up the escalator instead of just standing. For other ideas, see our article about increasing everyday activity.

There are also many ways you can be active with your family. You could try a quick game of catch or touch-football during halftime of the Thanksgiving game. Or, instead of buying a tree off a lot, you could take a trip to a tree farm and maybe cut one down yourself. This may be the year you could start new holiday traditions, like a family bike ride after Thanksgiving dinner or meeting up with friends to walk through the neighborhood and view Christmas light displays!

You can do lots of things with your loved ones that don’t focus on food. Some help you keep active, others just help you have fun together without eating. For more suggestions, see our article on leisure activities to enjoy with family and friends.

Closing thoughts

You can enjoy the holidays and still lose weight. Spend time with your friends and family, but eat your favorite holiday foods in moderation. A little planning and a good strategy can go a long way to help you face your toughest challenges!

< Back to Support and Motivation


Qsymia® should be used together with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of:

  • 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese) or
  • 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol

Limitations of Use:

  • It is not known if Qsymia changes your risk of heart problems or stroke or of death due to heart problems or stroke
  • It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight loss products

It is not known if Qsymia is safe and effective in children under 18 years old


Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.

Qsymia can cause serious side effects, including:

Birth defects (cleft lip/cleft palate). If you take Qsymia during pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk for birth defects called cleft lip and cleft palate. These defects can begin early in pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant. Patients who are pregnant must not take Qsymia. Patients who can become pregnant should have a pregnancy test before taking Qsymia and every month while taking Qsymia and use effective birth control (contraception) consistently while taking Qsymia. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to prevent pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Qsymia, stop taking Qsymia immediately, and tell your healthcare provider right away. Healthcare providers and patients should report all cases of pregnancy to FDA MedWatch at 1-800-FDA-1088, and the Qsymia Pregnancy Surveillance Program at 1-888-998-4887.

Increases in heart rate. Qsymia can increase your heart rate at rest. Your healthcare provider should check your heart rate while you take Qsymia. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience, while at rest, a racing or pounding feeling in your chest lasting several minutes when taking Qsymia.

Suicidal thoughts or actions. Topiramate, an ingredient in Qsymia, may cause you to have suicidal thoughts or actions. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you: thoughts about suicide or dying; attempts to commit suicide; new or worse depression; new or worse anxiety; feeling agitated or restless; panic attacks; trouble sleeping (insomnia); new or worse irritability; acting aggressive, being angry, or violent; acting on dangerous impulses; an extreme increase in activity or talking (mania); other unusual changes in behavior or mood.

Serious eye problems, which include any sudden decrease in vision, with or without eye pain and redness or a blockage of fluid in the eye causing increased pressure in the eye (secondary angle closure glaucoma). These problems can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new eye symptoms.

Common side effects of Qsymia include:

Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or face (paraesthesia); dizziness; changes in the way foods taste or loss of taste (dysgeusia); trouble sleeping (insomnia); constipation; and dry mouth.

Possible side effects of Qsymia include:

Mood changes and trouble sleeping. Qsymia may cause depression or mood problems, and trouble sleeping. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur..

Concentration, memory, and speech difficulties. Qsymia may affect how you think and cause confusion, problems with concentration, attention, memory or speech. Tell your healthcare provider if symptoms occur.

Increases of acid in bloodstream (metabolic acidosis). If left untreated, metabolic acidosis can cause brittle or soft bones (osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteopenia), kidney stones, can slow the rate of growth in children, and may possibly harm your baby if you are pregnant. Metabolic acidosis can happen with or without symptoms. Sometimes people with metabolic acidosis will: feel tired, not feel hungry (loss of appetite), feel changes in heartbeat, or have trouble thinking clearly. Your healthcare provider should do a blood test to measure the level of acid in your blood before and during your treatment with Qsymia.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus who also take medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (such as insulin or sulfonylureas). You should check your blood sugar before you start taking Qsymia and while you take Qsymia.

High blood pressure medicines. If you are taking medicines for your blood pressure, your doctor may need to adjust these medicines while taking Qsymia.

Central Nervous System (CNS) side effects. The use of prescription sleep aids, anxiety medicines, or drinking alcohol with Qsymia may cause an increase in CNS symptoms such as dizziness and light-headedness. Do not drink alcohol with Qsymia.

Possible seizures if you stop taking Qsymia too fast. Seizures may happen in people who may or may not have had seizures in the past if you stop Qsymia too fast. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to stop taking Qsymia slowly.

Kidney stones. Drink plenty of fluids when taking Qsymia to help decrease your chances of getting kidney stones. If you get severe side or back pain, and/or blood in your urine, call your healthcare provider.

Decreased sweating and increased body temperature (fever). People should be watched for signs of decreased sweating and fever, especially in hot temperatures. Some people may need to be hospitalized for this condition.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of Qsymia. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to VIVUS LLC at 1-888-998-4887 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Please read the Qsymia Medication Guide and Full Prescribing Information.

The Q and Me Patient Resources and Education site is based on the LEARN® Program provided under copyright license (September 15, 2010). All rights reserved.


Do not take Qsymia if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Qsymia treatment; have glaucoma; have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism); are taking certain medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or have taken MAOIs in the past 14 days; are allergic to topiramate, sympathomimetic amines such as phentermine, or any of the ingredients in Qsymia. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in Qsymia.