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How to Help Your Diet Survive the Holidays

Dessert table

In this Article:

  • One rich meal can have serious health consequences.
  • Don’t arrive to the party hungry.
  • Avoid mindless eating and drinking to keep your calories on track.

For healthy eaters, the holidays can be a minefield.

Holidays dedicated to eating piles of food make for a perfect storm to pack on the pounds.

So, what’s wrong with ditching your diet for a few days of the year? Besides inducing a food coma and an unattractive gut, feasting on rich food during one sitting can cause heart attacks, stroke, and gallbladder problems.

Read on for tips to help you enjoy your holiday meals without the guilt.

Don’t Arrive Hungry

Arriving on an empty stomach is a bad idea for two reasons.

First, you’ll be more likely to fall prey to appetite triggers, such as seeing other people eat in front of you or the desire to try every dish on the table. Second, going more than five hours without food can lower the hormone that tells your brain when you’re full.

To avoid this double whammy, eat breakfast and a light lunch before dinner. Drink a glass of water or nibble on fruits and vegetables if hunger pangs set in before dinner.

Think Before Your Next Bite

We’re all guilty of eating after we’re full because food is nearby. You may not even realize you’re still grazing.

When your spread offers lots of tempting food choices, remember that you can easily misjudge portion sizes. Serve yourself portions that leave room on the plate. Better yet, use a salad plate.

And if you catch yourself reaching for second helpings take a minute to evaluate. Are you just reacting to seeing more food or other people eating? If your stomach feels full, fight the urge to eat more. Try placing your napkin over your plate to signal to yourself that you’re done.

Watch the Liquid Calories

Calories in wine, beer, and soda add up quickly. Plus, alcohol can make you eat even more. Drink slowly, and for every alcoholic beverage or sugary drink, have one full glass of water.

Bonus points if you choose to drink sparkling water the whole evening.

Tricks to Help You Resist

  • Get moral support: let everyone know you’re working hard to keep your diet in check.
  • Eat slowly to give your stomach enough time to tell your brain that you’re full.
  • Eat vegetables first. The fiber will help you feel full faster.
  • Wear a belt. When it gets too tight, put down the fork.
  • Take food home to enjoy the next day. If you’re hosting, suggest guests bring take-home containers.
  • Distract yourself from eating by catching up with friends and family around you.

Try, Try Again

If after all your good intentions, you end up eating more than you should, don’t wallow in guilt. Just get back to eating right and increase your level of physical activity the next day.

Your future beach body will thank you.

Want More?

Need help keeping your portions in check? Take a look at this hand guide to portion control infographic.