Holiday Eating Strategies

When I know there's a special occasion or season coming up that may involve overeating, I prepare my mind and body.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


Every holiday season I used to gain five to ten pounds. The indulgences were everywhere: gift baskets at the office, parties, family gatherings and to top it off New Years!

Afterwards, I would feel angry and disappointed with myself for my lack of self-control. It would take me months, if not the whole year, to get the extra pounds off. There were times it never came off, so my size grew as the years passed, adding to my frustration. Until I finally said, "Enough! This is not working for me, it's making me unhappy and I feel like crap." I decided to take control of the situation.

When I know there's a special occasion or season coming up that may involve overeating, I prepare my mind and body.

  • I think about how I feel when I overeat:
  • bloating
  • clothes tight and uncomfortable
  • break-outs
  • frustration & disappointment with my lack of will-power
  • the effort to get the extra weight off
I make a decision about what I want, I do not want to:
  • gain weight
  • feel bloated and over-stuffed
  • put crap in my body
  • feel angry and disappointed with myself
I want to:
  • enjoy guilt-free delicious food that I love
  • feel good and be proud of myself

A goal properly set is halfway reached.
~Zig Ziglar

BODY I prepare by:
  • eating sensibly leading up to the event or season
  • cut starchy carbs: rice, potatoes, muffins, bread, crackers
  • no junk food or treats
  • lots of vegetables, lean meats, salads & fruit
  • cut fat: no butter, fatty dressings, anything deep fried
  • portion control
  • extra workouts
  • at least 8 glasses of water a day

A goal without a plan is merely a wish.

After I've decided on what I want, I start to think about situations where I may overeat. I think about the food that will be available at these events and whether I'll want to enjoy it. I ask myself:

Is stuffing my face for the month of December worth the extra pounds?
  • How will I feel on January 1st with an extra X pounds on my frame? Was it really that enjoyable?
  • Were those delectable treats really that delectable?
  • At the end of Christmas dinner, how do I want to feel? Do I want to have to undo my button and zipper? Do I want to feel bloated and sick?
  • Do I really need seconds or thirds at Xmas dinner? Is it actually more enjoyable when I eat more?
Is It Crap?
  • What are the ingredients in that tasty morsel?
  • Is it actually tasty and delicious or am I eating it out of boredom, unconsciousness, feeling uncomfortable or obligation?
  • Is it made with artificial flavour and hydrogenated oil or is it made with natural ingredients? If I can't pronounce the ingredient, then it's unnatural
  • How do I know it's crap if it's on a platter and there is no package to read? I look it over; does it look like it's made from natural ingredients or from a package? If it's homemade chances are it's not crap. If it looks like it's from a package, chances are it is crap. With practice, I've learned to tell and taste the difference
  • As a general rule homemade food is not crap
  • I consider how I will feel after I eat it. Crap makes me feel like crap

Be picky! Be choosy! Don't eat crap! Trust me it's not worth it.

Just eat food you love and enjoy.

This is a big one. Once you've decided on what you want, embrace it. What you think and say to yourself after that is everything. If you start to lament that you're on a "diet", that you can't eat this or that, that you wish you could but you don't want to gain weight, then you're hooped, it'll be difficult to stick to your plan.

Focus on what you're having instead of what you're not having. With the right attitude you won't miss a thing and enjoy what you have.

The Ying and the Yang
Stay in balance. In addition to "pre-paying" for your indulgences, here's how to enjoy tasty treats guilt-free:

  • drink at least 8 cups of water leading up to the event
  • eat a healthy and sensible breakfast and lunch but not to the point that you're starving when you arrive at the event and then pig out
  • drink two glasses of water right before the event and if you're hungry have a light healthy snack
At the event:
  • Avoid carbs that will make you feel bloated: rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, crackers, etc.
  • Be picky! Be choosy! Don't eat crap! Savour the food you love, take your time!
  • Consider each thing you eat and ask yourself: Is it worth it? Is it crap? Is the extra cellulite worth it? How will I feel after I eat this? Crap makes you feel like crap!
  • Eat one and enjoy it. Having more does not make it more enjoyable especially if afterwards you feel sick from over-eating
  • Parked at the food table and can't stop?
  • Recognize what you're doing
  • Ask yourself why, am I bored, uncomfortable, eating unconsciously?
  • Pull yourself away and drink a tall glass of water, repeat if you find yourself back there
  • Notice how you feel, skip breakfast if you're still full
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water the next day
  • Eat extra healthy the next few days: salads, fruit, vegetables, lean meat
  • It's just as easy to lose a few pounds, as it is to gain a few pounds. Do not starve yourself to do this! That is the absolute worst tactic. Just eat healthy, no crap, small portions, lots of water, cut sugar
  • Workout!

Follow my advice and I assure you you will get through the holidays with no weight gain and feeling good. Happy Holidays!

Ali has been teaching for over 30 years. She loves to inspire people to be fit, healthy and happy. Visit for more tips.