How to Avoid Overeating and Keep the Pounds Off During the Holiday Season

holiday season nutrition table of food

How to Avoid Overeating and Keep the Pounds Off During the Holiday Season

By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

The holiday season is drawing near. With it, come family get-togethers, office parties and seemingly never-ending amounts of delicious food and, in turn, overeating.

In order to avoid sabotaging your health and wellness goals, it is important to have a few tools which can help you navigate this food-filled festive period.

In the spirit of giving, here’s a lending hand on how to deal with it all.

How to avoid overeating and keep the pounds off during the holiday season?


How to prevent overeating:

  • Set food limits before attending a function. Be realistic and allow yourself to enjoy just one type of treat. Don’t eat the stuffing, potatoes and dessert! Choose one.
  • Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach–have a healthy snack such as yogurt and berries. When on the run, eat a protein bar or a handful of nuts, before you leave the house or while you’re out.
  • Exercise before a holiday season function. Your metabolic rate will be higher and you will tend to be more selective about the food you eat.
  • Be sure that you are physically hungry before you eat something. Don’t eat for the sake of eating.
  • Use a small plate so that you will eat less food.
  • Wait 20 minutes after eating your meal. It takes approximately 20 minutes to feel satiated, so give it some time before you dig in for seconds. It’s hard to wait it out, but I promise it works.
  • Share a dessert with a friend or your significant other, and cut the unnecessary calories in half.
  • Plan your treat days, indulging only on a few select occasions. Doing so requires discipline and for some, such state of mind can be difficult to attain. But once you manage to do so a few times, you will feel more confident in your ability to decline treats, empowering you to eat more healthily. 
  • Eat only your favourite foods at the holiday season functions. Again, be selective, only reaching for those foods that you absolutely cannot do without.


How to decline food graciously:

  • Be honest and tell the host that the food they prepared looks wonderful, but you want to stick to your goal of trying to eat healthy during the holidays. Isn’t everyone always on a diet? Once the host becomes aware of the reason for your gracious refusal to eat certain foods, he or she will likely understand and support you in your cause.
  • When hosting or attending a pot-luck, make a healthy dish such as a vegetable platter with a dip or a healthy dessert, and eat that while others are having other foods. This way you always have a healthy meal option.


Monitor food at social gatherings:

  • Use the smallest plate available, so you don’t overpack your plate and end up overeating.
  • Fill up your plate with foods that you like and dislike–your plate will look full but you will only end up eating half of it.
  • Eat more slowly, so you’re still on the first plate while others make a beeline for seconds.
  • Don’t stand by the food as it will be difficult to refrain from nibbling to excess.
  • Mingle with friends as an alternative to eating.
  • Sip on water while at the party. Doing so will not only fill you up, it will also keep you busy, leading to fewer food reaches.


Enjoying a treat without losing control:

  • Plan your treat meal to avoid guilt.
  • Keep a food diary. Being accountable makes you more aware of what you’re eating, and you are less likely to overeat when you have to write it all down.
  • Include a protein when making a dessert–cottage cheese in cheesecake. The protein will help stabilize your blood sugar level, and will cause fewer cravings for sweets.


How to deal with alcohol during the holiday season:  

  • Avoid drinking during the week and save it for the weekend because that’s when alcohol consumption tends to surge.
  • Choose red or white wine that contains less than 10 grams of sugar per litre. The lower sugar content, the better for your waistline.
  • Read: I’d Like to Propose a Toast to Healthy Alcohol for specifics.
  • Opt for wine spritzers to cut calories.
  • Vodka and water with lemon or lime, or vodka with low-sodium soda are excellent low-carbohydrate options.
  • Choose light or low-carbohydrate beer.
  • Doing shots? Choose tequila or vodka because they contain fewer calories.
  • Be sure to drink lots of water while and after drinking to prevent dehydration.


During the holiday season exercise to:

  • Keep your metabolic rate high.
  • Burn off the extra calories that you have consumed.
  • Release toxins and stress.


Once the damage is done:

  • Make an effort to eat less the next day, especially carbohydrates.
  • Drink peppermint, fennel or ginger tea to aid digestion.
  • Drink warm water with lemon in the morning to cleanse your liver and get your digestive juices flowing.
  • Use digestive enzymes before your meals to avoid feeling heavy and full.
  • Take a probiotic to relieve digestive upset. 
  • Read: Probiotics: What are They? Why Should I Take Them?


I cannot stress this enough: avoid being retroactive. Think and plan beforehand, and the fires you will be putting out after the holiday season will be that much smaller, perhaps even non-existent.

Instead of entering the festive period without a plan and without the help of a professional such as a nutritionist, indulging in food and feeling guilty afterwards, and only then making your New Year’s resolutions and setting weight loss goals, why not be proactive and follow at least some of the outlined steps?

Should you have any questions or comments, by all means, feel free to leave them here.

All the best in navigating the holiday season smorgasbord!

Related: Holiday Foods to Help Maintain Weight


Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.