5 Smart Strategies to Avoid Overeating at Holiday Parties

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Monica Wang)

Full disclosure: I am eating a snickerdoodle cookie as I write this. But, despite this sugar-crusted cookie’s presence in my hand (and the existence of its 11 compatriots on my kitchen counter), there’s nothing I dislike more than that too-full, sugar-packed feeling of leaving a holiday party with too much in my belly. To lend a helping hand to fellow snickerdoodle (and pie and charcuterie and cheese plate) lovers, here are five strategies to help you avoid overeating while still savoring every moment of all the holiday parties to come.

Follow Topics for more like this

Follow for more stories like this

Eat a Snack Beforehand

Yes, we all learned this one in Avoid Overeating 101, but it remains one of the most useful and simplest strategies to date if only because arriving at a party with an empty stomach practically guarantees your first stop is at the snack station. Or is that just me?

Start with Water

This tip is essential for two reasons: First, you may very well be mistaking your dehydration for hunger and that glass of water will take the edge off. Second, we’re not into counting calories (see snickerdoodle cookie, above), but that doesn’t change that fact that the pathway to bloated, over-full feelings is lined with holiday cocktails.

Stick to Your Habits

If you’re already firmly entrenched in, or in the midst of developing, great eating habits, now is not the time to throw in the towel. Indulging is always encouraged when sugar cookies are on the table, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your veggies or stop keeping your food journal. No holiday party is worth giving up on caring for your body.

Change Your Mindset

It’s all about the power of positive thinking—or, in this case, persuasive thinking. Instead of focusing on the idea that you can’t have something, tell yourself that you don’t want it. I can have it, but I don’t want it. All together now.

Use the Red Plates

Let me guess. You’re thinking something along the lines of: What? This sounds crazy (or maybe just extra-festive), but there is research linking the color red with reduced food and soft drink intake. In other words, putting your snacks and sweets on a red plate may lead to you eating less of it, thereby preventing overeating.

If you’re facing an eating disorder (or recovering from one) over the holidays, here are some resources from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) that might help.