7 tips to not overeat at holiday parties

FIT Staff
Dec 18, 2013

The holidays are here. Tt’s a time to enjoy friends, family and food. On average, Americans gain several pounds during the holiday season.

While this weight gain isn't dramatic, those pounds tend to stay and accumulate throughout the years.

Fortunately, those pounds can be avoided through mindful eating in moderation and a few simple strategies.

Here are some tips on surviving all those tasty holiday temptations

1. Take the edge off your hunger before a party. It’s common for people to want to skip meals before the big gathering and save those extra calories for later.  Warning! This may result in overeating once you finally get to the event.  It is especially important to not skip breakfast as research has shows that those who eat this important meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day.  Include lots of fiber in your diet by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  High fiber foods are high in volume and will satisfy hunger but are lower in calories.  Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower, so eat a small, low-fat snack such as fruit or low-fat cheese before you head out the door. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive.

2. Meet and Greet.  Don’t rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you eat. Move your socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays. This will minimize the unconscious nibbling.

3. Make Just One Trip to the Party Buffet.  Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style and include second and third helpings. While most wouldn’t consider eating an entire cake, a common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthy. It's important to include nutrient-rich foods in your diet, but also remember that these foods have calories as well and should be eaten in moderation. Using this approach at the holiday dinner table will allow you to maintain a healthful eating plan — one that can also include dessert.                                                                                                                                   

4. Plan Your Plate: There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating. Using a smaller plate, for instance, allows you to put less food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds wait ten minutes to see if you really are still hungry.                                                                                    

5. Be Active After the Holiday Feast.  This is a great time to go for a walk and catch up with family members, or start up a game of football or basketball with the kids.                                                                                                                                                    

6. Be Realistic. Don't try to lose weight during the holiday s— this may be a self-defeating goal. Instead, strive to maintain your weight by balancing party eating with other meals along with physical activity. Eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day so you can enjoy celebration foods later without overdoing your total calorie intake.

7. Have fun. Enjoy traditional holiday meals and party foods with family and friends while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  But with just a little preparation, you can keep off the extra holiday pounds and enjoy all that the season has to offer.