Nutrition Articles

Busting the Top 5 Excuses to Overindulge During the Holidays

Strategies to Cope with Holiday Eating

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Putting It All Together…
The best defense against holiday eating disasters is a combination of both planning and strategy: 
 
1.  Take inventory. Identify all the situations that make it difficult for you to eat healthy during the holiday season. Is it office parties? Food courts at the shopping mall? Family gatherings? Extra baking and cooking at home?
 
2.  Plan a system of attack. For example:
  • Bring a low calorie appetizer to the office party.
  • Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. 
  • Use healthier substitutions and make a low-calorie, low-fat dessert for the family gathering.
  • Budget calories throughout the day, so you can afford to spend a few more at the party.
  • Burn extra calories in a longer-than-usual exercise session. Some research shows that adding just 10 more minutes of intense exercise to your usual workout can stave off holiday weight gain. 
  • Stay focused by getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

3.  Remember to reward. Making it through the holidays can be hard work. Establish a reward system to stay motivated along the way. Deposit a pre-determined amount of money (the amount should be based on what you can financially afford) in a jar every week that you are able to follow your healthy eating plan. Then after the holidays—when the sales are big—go out and buy something special just for you!

4.  Stay positive. Everyone makes mistakes, so there will be times when even the most disciplined person will slip. Don’t worry or stress during these mishaps—it is critical to get back on track. Staying positive is half the battle. 
 
Remember, armed with a good plan and a positive attitude...
You will be nestled all snug in your bed,
While visions of carrot sticks (and low-calorie dip) dance in your head.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • AZURE-SKY
    I've started making "mini" treats. Instead of making a pan of brownies that I can cut any size, I make mini brownies in my mini muffin pans. When I make Christmas cookies (a tradition in my house), I make them smaller than the recipe says to. Nobody even notices!

    I'm going to a neighborhood holiday party this week, and instead of making a rich dessert, I'm making decorated cake balls. This gives everyone the opportunity to taste the dessert, instead of eating a whole slice of cake. I do the same thing with appetizers. - 12/6/2013 12:19:02 PM
  • Remember - if anyone should be offended by your responsible food choices, well, then, isn't it time to rethink that relationship? - 12/6/2013 4:20:35 AM
  • Carrots, maybe...but low calorie dip is never gonna dance in my head.....And the mouse
    Ain't ....that's right I said ain't getting nothing for Christmas....ok..
    .perhaps some crumbs!

    Great Article!
    - 12/1/2013 11:48:57 PM
  • I have a party tonight, Thanksgiving next week and 3 parties the first week in December. Really appreciated these ideas. I also plan to track my foods even if I indulge as I tend to skip that task. I will even log the next day as I don't know what is on the menu. - 11/23/2013 1:32:31 PM
  • Use and Ice Cream Scoop to control portions two scoops is about a half of a cup. I cook the Thanksgiving Dinner so there are plenty of veggie's for tomorrow. - 11/23/2011 7:15:46 PM
  • Thank you for reminding people about the cookbooks at the library! We are often a forgotten resource in the fight for a healthier lifestyle!
    - 11/23/2011 7:08:10 AM
  • CATHEITE
    I like Becky's suggestions for developing "a system of attack." The holiday excuse that I use most often is Special Occasion. I also eat more due to stress and nervousness. I've always felt very uncomfortable at social gatherings and rather than make awkward conversation, I reach for something to keep my hands and mouth busy. Having recognized this issue, however, I hope to make a change this year. - 12/4/2009 10:42:49 AM
  • Becky,
    This is a great article, full of imaginative ideas, and you are a good writer! - 11/14/2009 12:32:57 PM
  • PERENNIALX88
    Skip dessert & deposit a dollar in you box to give to a food bank for poor folks who can't afford bread! - 12/25/2008 8:36:41 AM
  • Great article. - 12/20/2008 10:14:13 PM
  • this was a great article!
    we are actually having an office party today where everyone brings food and eat ALL DAY!

    I opted to not bring a thing though because if i cook sweets i usually end up eating them while im cooking!

    i think the tip: how will you feel if you over indulge is great!!

    i never think about how i will feel if i eat too much until its too late, and i feel like crap and im mad at myself for sabatoging all my hard work! - 12/18/2008 11:06:52 AM
  • This was a good article. I get caught up with the "I'll get back on track tomorrow" way of thinking----and I'm now remembering that there's ALWAYS a reason to overeat (SuperBowl Party, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.), so I now focus on how I feel when I can slip my jeans on and no struggle to pull them up. - 11/19/2008 1:54:16 PM
  • this is some good advice, I much on carrots & celery before I go to a party where I know there will be alot of good food. - 12/9/2007 6:02:26 PM
  • Great article! One of the things I find when I overindulge on deserts & pastries during the holidays & keep too many "goodies" on hand is that it then becomes a hard-to-break habit for me & I find myself craving desert after dinner every day instead of a more heathy snack of fresh fruit. - 12/9/2007 12:48:57 PM
  • I have this dress that I want to wear for Mother's Day. I have it hanging on the back of my bedroom door. When I am offered extra yummies loaded with fat and calories...I picture that dress. That helps me keep my eye on my mini-goal and makes it much easier to resist. I also ask myself...Is it really worth it? I have worked hard to lose 73 pounds. Do you know how many cardio bootcamp minutes I need to burn off a stupid cookie?!!? - 12/9/2007 9:14:06 AM