Eight Ways to Curb Holiday Overeating

3 min read  |  December 08, 2023  | 

Tis the season for holiday parties, for eating and drinking too much, and for surrendering to all those calorie-rich treats. So, what can you do to avoid temptation while also keeping true to the festive mood?

The answer may surprise you. “Sometimes we just need to accept it,” says Veruska Gonzalez, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, a clinical dietitian with the University of Miami Health System. “You are going to overdo it, but it’s hopefully not something you’re doing every day or every month.”

She believes that there’s no need to beat yourself up when you gorge on the pecan pie or guzzle the eggnog. “The average person can handle it fine because it’s a seasonal thing,” she explains. The consequences might be minimal — a feeling of fullness, perhaps indigestion, and possibly a few extra pounds.

But the important thing to remember is this: Overeating and overdrinking should never be routine. No one should make indulging a daily habit.

That said, Gonzalez offers several suggestions to lessen the effects of holiday intemperance:

  1. Start every day with fresh determination. If you fell off the wagon the night before, climb back on the following morning. Past peccadilloes don’t have to determine the present.

  2. Keep to your routine as much as possible. If you know the office shindig will mean a late dinner, consider a light snack before the party to avoid feeling famished. “I always recommend keeping to your usual [eating] schedule as much as possible,” Gonzalez says. “That will keep you from feeling so hungry that you’ll eat anything that’s set in front of you.”

  3. Focus on friends and family instead of the food. After all, the holidays are more than an annual culinary extravaganza.  

  4. Find a way other than emotional eating to deal with the stress. Exercise, read, paint — practice whatever helps you soothe the inevitable strain of the season.

  5. Eat slowly. It takes your body 20 minutes to feel full, so before going for seconds, take a breather. You may realize you don’t really need more. Also, remember that you don’t need to clean your plate.

  6. Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re not paying attention or when finger foods are on delicious display. “We’re talking and catching up and meeting people and we don’t really know what or how much we’re eating,” Gonzalez says.

    So when packing your plate, make a conscious effort to select fruits and veggies, lean proteins and high-fiber whole grains. Sugar-laden or high-fat foods should be a rare indulgence and consumed in small portions.

  7. Practice restraint with alcoholic drinks, which tend to be high in calories. Gonzalez follows the general guidelines of one daily drink for women and two for men. “In general it’s better to avoid binge drinking altogether,” she says, but she understands that may be unrealistic for some people during the season. (Binge drinking is 4 or more drinks consumed on one occasion within two to three hours. For men, binge drinking is 5 or more drinks consumed on one occasion.)

    If you’re trying to follow a lower calorie eating pattern, she also suggests choosing low-calorie drinks like tea or sparkling water. The calories you save can be used instead on the dishes you enjoy.

  8. Stick to your goal if you’re on a weight-loss plan. “You want to do your best, but you also have to understand that sometimes you won’t be able to,” Gonzalez concedes.  

Headshot of Ana Veciana, author (2023)

Ana Veciana-Suarez is a regular contributor to the University of Miami Health System. She is a renowned journalist and author who has worked at The Miami Herald, The Miami News, and The Palm Beach Post. Visit her website at or follow @AnaVeciana on Twitter.

Tags: eating healthy, healthy holiday, holiday foods

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