Six Tips to Avoid Holiday Overeating

Being surrounded by loved ones and holiday spirit makes it hard not to indulge, 24Life is here to help.

Brace yourself. The holiday season brings with it peppermint mochas, sugar cookies, elaborate dinners and Christmas party punch. This cheerful time of the year is also ripe for urging you to gain a few extra pounds. Here’s your overeating prevention guide to stay the course for relatively healthy holiday season.

1. Eat breakfast

Rationing your calories so you can splurge at the evening’s holiday party may sound like a good plan, but it can leave you ravenous, circling the buffet and dessert table like a shark. Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., a Live Science contributor, advocates “organized eating” to help combat overeating. Plan out your day, starting with a hearty breakfast. Then schedule times to eat light snacks and small meals throughout the day leading up to the main event.

2. This time, don’t work out

Postpone your workout for the day after Christmas dinner. Sure, it makes sense to wake up with a killer gym session or long run, but it can trick your mind into overindulging in the evening. Many people overestimate how many calories they really burned or use exercise as their excuse for eating larger portions. People may actually gain weight as they boost their workout regimen into high gear. Play it safe and schedule your workout post-feast.

3. Drink up, with moderation

Always drink in moderation — as excessive drinking leads to extra calories and lessens your resolve to eat reasonably. But drinking a glass of wine at your Hanukkah dinner can also be a good strategy. First, strategically sipping wine can help you avoid overeating appetizers during a pre-dinner graze. Secondly, a great-tasting glass of wine from an exquisite, more expensive bottle during dinner can help you slow down between bites. Remind yourself to savor these sips and acknowledge how well the wine pairs with your brisket and potato latkes. But when it comes to overdrinking, make sure you only do that with pure H20.

4. Eat buffet style

Rather than setting large serving dishes of the main course and sides on the dining table at your New Year’s or Christmas dinner party, reserve the dining table only for the plates – leave the extras in the kitchen. This removes temptation, ease of additional helpings and eyeing your next round of food before even finishing what’s still on your plate. You don’t have to sacrifice presentation either. Use your best serving dishes and display your buffet with festive decorative accents. This way a holiday centerpiece and candles can adorn the majority of the table space.

5. Prioritize your plate

Whether it’s Christmas dinner or your work holiday party, there’s always a lot of food and drink options. In the moment of hunger and festiveness, you may scoop everything onto your plate resulting in a mountain of food. Instead, scan the array of dishes and fill your plate with the top three items you enjoy most. This helps stop you from forcing yourself into eating a buttered roll just because it’s on your plate. If you want a taste of everything, opt for one bite-sized portion of those lower priority foods.

6. Get up, clean up

If you can’t seem to shake the desire for another helping of macaroni and cheese or slice of honey-glazed ham, start cleaning up. Not only will this cut you off from eating more, but it’ll get you moving. Help clear away everyone else’s plates if they’re finished, start to load the dishwasher, wash the pots and put away the leftovers. Cleaning up prevents you from hitting the couch and entering the dreaded food coma.

If all of these fail, and you’re debating breaking out the fat pants, give yourself a break. Tomorrow is always another day to get back on track. But “don’t deprive yourself the next day to compensate,” says Franca Alphin, R.D., L.D.N., administrative director of Duke University Diet & Fitness Center and Marie Claire contributor.

If you’ve overindulged, just avoid the scale and remember it may take a few days to feel back to normal. Drink water, choose veggies and move around to get your system back to where it should be. Happy Holidays!