5 Mental Tricks to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

Use these “anti-overeating” strategies to help keep your holiday treat consumption in check


It’s inevitable: with the holiday season comes an influx of food in the form of sugar- and butter-filled baked goods, over-the-top cocktails and in general, meals that are just downright decadent.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy these treats. The holidays, after all, are a special time of year. But, if like most you want to keep your intake to a modest level (which we all know can be quite a challenge), then there are a few simple “anti-overeating strategies” you can employ.

Related: Fitness Tip of the Day: Let Go of Guilt

Below, John Rowley, a certified personal trainer, best-selling author and ISSA Director of Wellness shares a few tricks you can use to avoid going overboard and keep the treats and feasts in check during the holidays this year.


1. Never arrive hungry to holiday parties.
“Eat a large healthy snack before the soirée such as a raw veggie mix with a small side of hummus or fruit salad with low-fat yogurt, nuts, etc.,” Rowley suggested. This, he explained, will make you less inclined to overeat and also help you keep your treat consumption in check.  

2. Drink lots of water.
“Often times our thirst is misinterpreted as hunger,” Rowley said. “Drinking lots of water not only will help fill you up but it will also help your body flush out toxins.”

3. Talk, dance and play.
“Stay active at holiday parties and try standing instead of sitting,” Rowley recommended. “Standing burns calories and so does dancing and talking.” Plus, it keeps your brain occupied so you’re less inclined to eat mindlessly just because there’s food around you.

4. Get enough sleep.
“Many studies over the years have shown a strong correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain,” Rowley said. “Therefore, try to get a full nights rest because both your body and brain need it.” Not to mention, missing out on sleep messes with your hormones, decreasing leptin, the hormone that helps you feel full, and increasing ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

5. Keep calm.
“The holidays are a stressful time and chronic stress can cause stress-induced weight gain,” Rowley explained. “So keep calm—try doing some yoga or breathing exercises to keep the holiday stress at bay.” You might even consider implementing some meditation techniques, which can potentially help you to build and maintain long-term healthy eating habits.

Related: 6 Exercises for Instant Stress Relief

Bonus Tip: Sneak in a workout.
Rowley suggests boosting your workout routine by incorporating some isometric exercises into your day-to-day routine.

“Isometric exercises are muscle contraction exercises that can be done when stationary or even when holiday shopping or waiting in those long lines,” he explained. “One example is the stationary abdominal crunch. This exercise is similar to the regular crunch, but you can do it without drawing any attention to yourself. Simply stand up straight contract your abdominal muscles as you would during a floor crunch and hold the contraction for at least ten seconds. Repeat at least two to three times each session.”

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