Curb Overeating This Holiday Season (Here are 5 tips that will HELP)

The holidays are here, which means office parties and potlucks, cookie exchanges, and lots of sweet treats and to tempt you all day long. While we all love this time of year, it can be tough to avoid the temptations that it brings. It’s not as hard to continue to eat healthy when you’re planning your own holiday party. You can buy low fat cheeses, cook healthy holiday recipes, and know exactly what you’re eating. Going to a holiday party or over to relatives’ homes, however, is a totally different story. 

You don’t want to be rude when grandma offers you a second (or third) helping of her homemade apple pie, and, hey, you only eat these foods “once a year” so it’s okay to splurge, right? Wrong. The average American gains ten pounds after the holidays. If you don’t want all your healthy living efforts to go to waste (or waist), try these five tips to help you curb overeating this holiday season.

Portion Size

When you see the beautiful displays of all the colorful and delicious food on the table, most people fall under the “My eyes were bigger than my stomach!” curse, and overfill their plates and their bellies. When you see or smell food, it can trigger your mind to convince you that you’re actually hungry, but your body isn’t really overdue for food or energy. 

If you’re at a buffet-style dinner and want to try everything (and not hurt the host’s feelings), try a small sample size of everything and limit yourself to one plate. You can also fill an entire plate of vegetables first to get full off of that before you indulge in the higher-calorie foods. Use this this portion size guide for help, and leave only a little bit of room for that piece of cheese or cookie. 

Plan Ahead

Most of us have holiday get-togethers marked in our calendars weeks (if not months) in advance. If you know you’re going to be at a party or family gathering that will be filled with high-calorie foods, eat a large healthy breakfast or have a healthy snack beforehand so you don’t overeat when you’re at the gathering. 

An opposite school of thought is to eat a light breakfast and lunch filled with high-fiber foods and veggies, and limit yourself to that one big meal of the day. Either way, don’t eat two (or three) huge high-calorie foods in one day. Space it out. 

Take Your Time

Use all five senses when you’re eating your food to really savor the flavors and enjoy it. Chew thoroughly and take smaller bites. When you don’t eat so quickly and really savor what you’re eating, you feel fuller faster. Additionally, those who wait 20 minutes after the first round for seconds tend to not even need another plate. Twenty minutes allows the body time to completely digest the food, triggering the “I’m full” feeling, which prevents overeating. 

Another way to force you to take your time while eating holiday foods is to sit by someone who you know is also a slower eater. You can focus on conversation and not subconsciously be in an eating contest with them.


If you’re at a gathering with a large group of people, try to focus on having a good conversation with a lot of different people, rather than what food you’re going to eat. When you do get a plate of food, try to still have small talk with someone and take smaller bites. This will force you to eat smaller portions and chew thoroughly so you don’t overeat. 

When picking a place to stand or sit at a party, do not stand directly next to the food table. The sights and smells will be too tempting to resist. Stepping outside can also distract you for a moment to recollect yourself and get back to your healthy eating mindset.

Limit Alcohol Intake

No matter how amazing your uncle’s spiked eggnog, or your friend’s killer raspberry wine zinger may be, alcohol is unfortunately just empty calories. Sparkling water or juice are good alternatives, and may even pass for an alcoholic beverage (so you can keep the pushers at bay). 

If you do choose to partake in the empty calorie consumption, try to drink a full glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. This will ensure that you not only stay hydrated, but also fill you up and slow down your alcohol intake. You can also use slender glasses when imbibing because of the limited amount of liquid they hold.