How to Not Overeat During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for bountiful homemade foods: Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Stuffing. Ham. Candied sweet potatoes. Cookies. Pies. Ice cream. Not to mention signature family cocktails: Old fashions. Manhattans. Pineapple upsidedown cake shots (yes, definitely ask for this recipe). The list goes on and on and on.

With the amount of food served during the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of it-only-comes-once-a-year-so-I-may-as-well-let-loose. And by all means – enjoy yourself! Dig into that deep fried turkey and grab a second serving of pumpkin pie.

Just don’t let that mindset consume you. That feeling of a bloated stomach after you gorged yourself… it isn’t pleasant. And remember that those extra calories still count even though you’re celebrating.

Here are a couple ways to make sure you don’t over eat during the holidays so you can enjoy your family and friends without feeling guilty.

1. Eat Less During the Day

It sounds simple, but when your stomach is telling you how hungry it is, you need to dig deep to fight those grumbles away. Try cutting your normal breakfast and lunch in half or skipping them entirely. Your taste buds will enjoy the food even more that night. If you really need a snack, reach for the fruits and veggies (without dip).

2. Put Your Fork Down Between Bites

Chewing your food is so important in helping with healthy digestion.  After you take a bite of food, put your utensil down and chew your food thoroughly.  Take time to enjoy the food you’re eating.  This will naturally slow your pace and you’ll be more in tune with your body’s satiety signals.

3. Remember That There Will Be Leftovers

Big family and friend parties always seem to serve too much food. With that in mind, you’ll have the chance to take your favorite foods home – which means you don’t need to stuff your face that night! Pace yourself, savor the flavor, and know that you’ll have some for tomorrow.

4. Track your foods in MyFitnessPal

By knowing how much you overeat during holiday feasts gives you a great idea of how to balance out your caloric intake for the rest of the week. In other words, if you think of your caloric intake on a weekly basis instead of a daily basis, you’ll just have to eat less on other days to make room for the big eating ones.

5. Stay Consistent With Your Exercise

If you still think it’s inevitable that you’re going to overeat regardless of any advice on how not to, just do one thing: exercise. Weight gain is all about energy balance, so if you eat more than you work off, the pounds will only accumulate. Take a walk around your neighborhood with your spouse, get a good lifting session in the morning of a party, throw the football around with the kids – just be active and you’ll feel better.

Don’t let the holidays totally derail your fitness goals.  The most important point is to remove guilt from the equation.  If you totally overeat on any single day, don’t let it beat you up too much.  Enjoy the food and company and the get back on the horse the next day.  Don’t fall into a pit of self loathing and continue to eat poorly because you think you've just lost all of your progress.  

Remember the wise words of Aristotle, “excellence is a habit, not an act.”

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