How to Eat Healthier This Holiday Season

Updated: Oct 28

Celebrating the holidays by eating a meal prepared with love, surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones is a tradition that just can't be beat. Unfortunately, for most of us, it results in unwanted weight gain. Does the dreaded extra 5 pounds sound familiar?

While we really don't gain 5 extra pounds during the holiday season, we do gain about 1-2 extra pounds each year from overindulging in all of those rich delicious holiday meals. 1 extra pound a year might not sound so bad but most of us never lose that extra pound. Over the course of 10 years, we find ourselves 10 pounds heavier.

Even if we do get through the holidays without gaining any extra weight, the tendency to overindulge could bring about some pretty unhealthy eating habits that we spend the rest of the year trying to undo.

Although, there's nothing wrong with indulging from time to time, there are ways to "have your cake and eat it too" without the guilt that is often associated with the extravagant foods we eat around the holidays.

So don't worry about overindulging or telling family and friends that you won't be participating in the holiday meal festivities this year.

You can enjoy the holiday season without eating too much simply by changing your mindset and incorporating some simple tactics.

When spending time with family over the holidays, focus on your family instead of the meal. Eating meals with the ones we love is a time honored enjoyable tradition that has been ingrained in our culture but try to shift your focus to the ones you love and not eating.

Pace Yourself

This means spending more time talking at the dinner table than waiting to get seconds.

Pacing your eating will give your brain and stomach more time to interact. This helps you realize when you are full and you may even feel fuller quicker.

Focusing on the company and conversation instead of the candied yams leads to less eating overall since you're main goal will be to catch up with family and friends not the dessert table. You may even decide to skip on getting a second helping as you become enthralled with Uncle Joe's tall tales.

Speaking of seconds, it can be hard to say "no" to Grandma when she's adamant on giving you an extra serving of mashed potatoes. These situations need tact. So suggest that she packs you some hearty left-overs instead. Explain that you are just about stuffed and that you would love for her to pack some food to take home since you enjoy her cooking so much.

This tactic helps you avoid hurting anyone's feelings and expanding your waistline.

Also focus on portion control. If given the chance, opt to serve yourself instead of having a family member pack your plate. If you come from a large family or one that prides itself on large meals, it's almost impossible for you to get an accurate portion when letting someone else serve you.

Serving yourself prevents someone else from overfilling your plate.

Choose a small salad plate instead of a full size dinner plate to avoid serving yourself too much food. You may get strange looks from your relatives but it's worth it to avoid the looks of frustration you'll be giving yourself in the mirror on New Year's Day after a month or two of overindulgence right?

And don't just stop at choosing a small salad plate.

Research shows that you can increase a feeling of fullness and eat less when choosing smaller utensils, like spoons, too. When offered the choice, choose smaller plates and eating utensils, to prevent overeating.

pumpkin tarts

Have a sampler style dessert instead of a full dessert. If there are an array of goodies on the table, opt for a small bite of two or three. This way you get a taste of the all the holiday goodies without overloading on sugar.