Ways to Avoid Overeating This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving…a holiday intended to be dedicated to gratitude. Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, the focus on appreciation takes a back seat to gorging on high-calorie, sugar-laden food. And for most people, that feast marks the beginning of a downhill food battle for the rest of the holiday season.

Why does it matter? According to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the vast majority of people will never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays.

But with a little planning, you can keep from eating too much during the holidays. The following 11 tips can help you feel better and have more energy to enjoy the holiday season.

1. Don’t Skip Meals

While it can be tempting to skip meals earlier in the day in order to “save room” for the big event, it will backfire every time. It is important to have your normal meals because when you get overly hungry, you will overeat!

2. Indulge Sensibly

Depriving yourself of every treat or food you like is more difficult this time of year and is a set-up for failure. Allow yourself to enjoy those treats that you look forward to all year long, but keep in mind there’s no need for an all-out binge-fest. In fact, research indicates that the first few bites of food are the most satisfying. So follow the three-bite rule: Be fully present and conscious while you have three bites so you can really concentrate on enjoying the food.

3. Take Your Time

Eat slowly, and before you go back for dessert or seconds, wait at least 20 minutes. Why? It takes at least that long for your digestive system to signal to your brain that you are full. Unfortunately, if you eat to the point of fullness, the real feeling of being full will kick in later…once you are overfull. After waiting, you might find that you don’t really want anything else to eat after all.

4. Stay Hydrated

Sometimes we actually mistake dehydration for hunger. Drinking water throughout the day will help to alleviate this potential signal cross. Be sure to drink water, seltzer, or herbal tea before you eat – it will take up space in your stomach, is calorie-free, and is good for your health!

5. Start With Veggies

Most people don’t eat enough vegetables anyway, so take this opportunity to eat the healthier options first. Vegetables are rich in nutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories so that by the time you get to the pecan pie and eggnog, you may find that you have less room to overindulge.

6. Use Smaller Plates

Though it is an optical illusion, the same amount of food looks larger on a smaller plate than it does on a larger plate. In fact, research from Cornell University shows switching from a 12-inch to a 10-inch plate can help you eat 20-25% fewer calories.

7. Limit Your Alcohol

Not only are alcoholic drinks high in calories and bad for the health of your brain, drinking alcohol will also decrease your resistance to temptations.

8. Get Moving

Make it a new family tradition to play flag football, do a 5K together, play an active game, or go ice skating, rather than continuing to mindlessly eat or have a TV marathon. While you are at holiday parties, stay active. Try standing instead of sitting, or dancing to burn calories.

9. Talk To People

Fully participating in conversations and being engaged can help as a nice distraction from food. During the meal, have more conversations so that you aren’t just shoveling food into your mouth.

10. Focus On Friends And Family

Thanksgiving is not just about a delicious bounty of food. It is also a time to celebrate relationships with friends and family. Enjoy quality time together and focus on socializing rather than what is on the dessert table.

11. Just Say No

Don’t let people push food on you. Just because Aunt Susie made her famous pumpkin cheesecake (though it’s not one of your favorites) doesn’t mean that you have to eat it. Do NOT eat to please others.


How do you keep from overeating during the holidays? Share your tips in the comments below.