5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Overeating and Weight Gain

Avoid overeating during the holidays with this strategic mind-body approach.

Holidays are here: one of the the season's biggest pitfalls- overeating. This time of year is notorious for unwanted weight gain (studies show people typically gain about 1.5 pounds or ~.7 kg). Holiday weight gain research shows that people who struggle to manage weight tend to gain more; most people don’t lose this weight, which can add up over the years. But, you can enjoy favorite seasonal traditions.

The key: use proven strategies to increase awareness, know your triggers and plan ahead.


1. Eat something light and drink a full glass of water about 20 minutes before going to any holiday feast. Avoid being super hungry, as that triggers overeating. Eating earlier allows enough time for your brain to send signals that you’re getting full. Stay fully hydrated during the season. Drink your full daily water allocation before going to festive events.

2. Graze and eat slowly. It’s okay to enjoy holiday treats, but instead of taking large portions, enjoy a sampler plate. Think of it more like a fun tasting menu. If you didn’t have a chance to eat before, fill up on high fiber crudité, healthy veggie and whole grain options. Eat slowly and pace yourself. With drinks, enjoy a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.

3. Eat mindfully. Taste, smell, experience flavors, textures and dimensions of every bite. Explore the flavors and share what you’re experiencing with others. Savor all the holiday treats. Practice the Mindful Awareness Exercise to heighten all your senses for fuller enjoyment.

4. Learn how to politely say, “No, thank you,” to more. No one wants to offend a hospitable host. At the same time, you don’t want to overeat. Before going out, decide for yourself what your limits will be (for example, no seconds). Practice what you will say to express your appreciation for the abundance of tasty treats, but stick firm to your personal limits. Eat every bite with intention. 

5. Know your triggers for overeating. We each have triggers for overeating behaviors that may come from the context or be rooted in emotional memories. For example, you may eat to avoid not knowing what to say at a party. You can prevent this from happening by having some non-controversial topics ready to talk about. Prepare beforehand by thinking about situations where you have eaten more than you wanted. Know these triggers about yourself, so you can avoid these overeating triggers at holiday occasions.

In addition to not overeating, check out my tips on how to reduce holiday stress (which can cause overeating) and increase holiday fitness activities.

Start the New Year without feeling like you need to "make up" for the holidays or shed newly gained holiday weight.  Use these scientifically proven tips and a video from my Happy Healthy Holidays Playlist. The key is to raise awareness of what you're eating, pay attention and prepare for what stimulates overeating for you.

From the HappY, Healthy Holidays Playlist:


Visit my YouTube channel for more helpful videos like you've watched, and while you're there make sure you subscribe.  New videos are added every Thursday.


There will be more helpful ideas and videos throughout the month related to the holidays. Videos include: 10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress, How to Stay Fit During the Holidays, How to Boost Holiday Joy and a Guided Meditation to Increase Holiday Spirit.  Come back to the "How to Avoid Holiday Overeating" tips any time you need to check in with your awareness around eating.  If you're ready to jump start your goals for the new year, you'll find my Goal Setting For Success workbook really helpful as you make a plan.  You can download your free copy here. 

How are YOU being mindful and staying healthy and happy this holiday season?  Please leave your thoughts in comments below and, if you learned something useful, please share this post with friends.  




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