How To Keep From Overindulging This Holiday Season

All the food at the holidays makes it difficult to eat right. Here's how to get through it.

By Jenny Steadman, editor of Macaroni Kid Family Wellness November 11, 2019

You’ve been trying so hard to eat well and take care of yourself. You managed to just say "no" to Halloween candy and now the mother of all holiday meals is upon us: Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is built around food, and not just any food. Often Thanksgiving tables are filled to the brim with baskets of rolls, creamed this, and buttered that. We are encouraged to over-indulge ... and that is before we are even presented with a buffet of pies!

How are we supposed to manage?

I've found the trick is not to restrict yourself, but to crowd out.

What does that mean? That means crowd out all of the excessive and unhealthy food with the best foods. These foods are green salad, simply-prepared vegetables, and quality protein.

Here is what I do to avoid the excess of the holiday:

  1. Drink a glass of water before the meal. You don’t want to start off starving.
  2. For round one, I fill my plate with green food and protein. For me, this is usually a large green salad with a small serving of turkey on top.
  3. Sit and enjoy. I don’t gulp it down. I enjoy the company I'm with and drink more water. (If I'm drinking wine, I keep it to one glass.) By participating in conversation, I find I eat slower and, in turn, eat less.
  4. When I'm ready for seconds, I take a deep breath to center myself. Then I get the potatoes, stuffing, and any other indulgence I want. I remind myself not to overdo it. This is not the only time of the year I get to eat mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. I can make green bean casserole any time I want, and bread is something that is available daily. This is not an all-or-nothing situation and I will more than likely be taking leftovers home. This is not my last meal. 
  5. I don’t go back for thirds. I save that room for pie! You know you want that pie. So I get a slice and I take my time eating it. I truly enjoy it and taste it. (That sounds funny, but we often do not take the time to taste our food.) Again, remember that pie is not a once-a-year phenomenon.
  6. I don’t overdo it on the alcohol. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, which makes us eat more. Trust me. You won’t regret saving your second glass of wine for tomorrow or a different occasion. There is always more wine.

Most importantly, I enjoy the company! Whether you are with family or friends, these are people you love. Be with them. Converse with them. Enjoy them. This is what the holidays are all about.


Jenny Steadman is the editor of Macaroni Kid Family Wellness and a health coach. This story originally appeared in Macaroni Kid Family Wellness. Sign up today for your free monthly Family Wellness newsletter!