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5 Tips to Eating Healthy During the Holidays

Many people struggle with eating around the holidays. It’s very common, and I used to struggle with it too.

I used to be bad. Every time I would walk by the kitchen, I would grab a cookie. Before I knew it, I had eaten a dozen or more. Cookies weren’t the only problem; I did this with candy, chocolate, salted nuts, chips, etc. You name it; if it was sitting out, I would grab for it.

Even worse were the big family meals. I would load up on every food item on the table, and often go back for seconds. The meal was so enjoyable, but by the end I was feeling stuffed to the point I could barely move.

Does this sound like you? Don’t worry, it’s normal, and you’re not alone.

Whether it's with family, friends, or coworkers, big meals are a staple around the holidays. They're also one of the most enjoyable events surrounding this time of year. Who doesn't love gathering with people, some of which you haven't seen in awhile, to share festive drinks and a delicious meal?

The problem is that these events are loaded with flavorful, but often unhealthy, food and drinks. There's nothing wrong with indulging in seasonal drinks and holiday meals. Who wants to go to a party that just serves kale and water?

I'm sure you've come to the realization that eating and drinking poorly over the holidays is inevitable. But if you’re concerned about going overboard with the unhealthy diet, there are ways to avoid overeating, over indulging, and the other dietary fears that accompany the holidays.

Try these 5 tips to eating and drinking healthy during the holidays.

1. Don’t go back for seconds

Limit yourself to one plateful of food. Once you've finished eating everything on your plate, take a breather and relax for a few minutes. Many people opt for seconds and overeat because they don't get the feeling of being full. Well it could take up to 20 minutes to get that feeling of being full, so give your body time to recognize your food consumption.

I'm not telling you to starve yourself. If you're still hungry after 20 minutes have passed since you began your meal, go back for more.

Tip: Sometimes the food is so good we just want more. If that's the case, keep some as leftovers to enjoy it the following day.

2. Socialize away from foods

Another reason we eat too much or not right is because we're constantly gathering around food. We go to parties to socialize with others. Well, don't socialize around the food, where you're liable to keep picking at whatever is in front of you.

If you find yourself chatting around the hor d'oeuvres, dinner, or dessert table, take the conversation away from the table. You'll find you eat much less simply by not hanging out within arms reach of food.

3. Use small plates

If you're like me, you fill your plate no matter the size. And if you're still like me, you finish everything on your plate. Research has proven we eat what's in front of us. If that's true, then one way to limit how much you eat is portion size.

If you have the option of using a smaller plate, do it. It may sound silly, but you're unlikely to fill your plate multiple times, or more times than others. You're more likely to keep pace with those around you, who may be using a larger plate. So at the end of the meal when your friend has had 2 large plates of food, and you've eaten 2 smaller plates of food, you'll feel much better about the quantity you consumed and your choice to use a smaller plate.

4. Don’t buy unhealthy foods

What you eat is usually what you put in front of you. Another way to put it is, "What you see is what you eat." So don't put unhealthy food items in your view. The easiest way to prevent poor eating around the holidays, or any time for that matter, is to not buy the things you don't want to eat.

It's one of the core principals to healthy eating: don't buy unhealthy snacks.

It's understandable that you can't control what is served by others around the holidays. If you attend a party and can't resist temptation to eat the delicious holiday treats that are on display for everyone to enjoy, I get it. But then only indulge at the party. Keep the sweet treats, or any food item you're trying to avoid, out of your home and out of your sight.

5. Schedule something important for mornings

It's not just overeating and over-snacking that sets us back during the holidays. Drinking too much is a common theme around holiday parties and gatherings. I won't lie; I've enjoyed one too many cocktails at a party before, and regretted it's effects on my health.

I absolutely love spiced egg nog, mulled wine, and Christmas punch this time of year.

They're even better enjoyed with friends, and who can say "no" when you're offered a drink at a party? It's perfectly fine to enjoy fun holiday drinks, but do it sparingly. But how when they taste so delicious?

Schedule something important for the next morning. One of my worst fears is waking up to do something, and feeling awful from drinking the night before. If you're the same, having something planned for the next morning will help you say "no" to another drink. It will also give you an excuse to the peer pressure of staying late to socialize over drinks.

Final Tip

Every year we look forward to the holidays that are abundant with good food and drinks with the people we love. But it's also a time that many of us stress about the effects of the holidays on our health. Practice the 5 tips above for a healthier holiday season.

One final tip: drink lots of water. The more water you drink, the less you will eat.


For hacks on how you can eat healthier anytime of the year, check out my Beginner's Guide to Eating Healthy. If you have a tip, question, or comment about healthier eating, please share it in the comments section or post it on our facebook page.

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