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How to Enjoy Holiday Food Without Gaining Weight (And Maybe Even Losing a Little!)

By Shari Broder November 18, 2023 Health and Fitness

We’ve now entered the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or the New Year, you’ll likely celebrate with all kinds of delicious food. Maybe some of these foods you only prepare during the holidays or don’t eat during the rest of the year.

So many people tend to overeat in this season and gain weight, then make a resolution for the new year to go on a diet. That approach hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work this year either.

Diets don’t produce long-term weight loss, so I encourage you to never go on another one. But that’s a topic for a different post.

There is a much better way to enjoy the foods of the holidays without gaining weight. I confess that for most of my life, I routinely overate and gained weight over the holidays. Despite my resolution to lose the weight after New Year’s, I rarely did. The weight kept piling up.

Nowadays, I enjoy the holiday foods I love without gaining weight! I love being the only one at the Thanksgiving table who doesn’t overeat.

I don’t feel deprived one bit. In fact, I feel so much better! I’m going to tell you how you can do that too. Post-menopause, losing weight is so much harder, so if you want to avoid weight gain, it’s time to nip those overeating habits in the bud.

Whatever holidays you celebrate this time of year, it is likely that food is involved.

What does this bring to mind for you?

Do You Think Any of These Thoughts About Holiday Eating?

  • I only get to eat (fill in favorite holiday foods here) on (insert holiday here)! I’d better get my fill of it!
  • There are so many tempting foods around. How can I resist?
  • I can’t waste this, so I’d better finish what is on my plate.
  • After the holidays, I’ll go on a diet
  • I deserve to eat this!

What is wrong with this type of thinking? It comes from a mindset of scarcity. If you want to stop overeating and gaining weight during the holidays, the most important step is to change your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. It’s crucial.

Here’s what I mean. Has there been a time in the past few years when you didn’t have enough food to eat? Is there a shortage of delicious food in your life on a regular basis?

I’m guessing the answer to both of these questions is “no.” Chances are that you can buy or prepare delicious food any time, day or night. 24/7 in many places. You can stop at the local market and purchase lots of things that you love to eat.

You can go to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a good meal. You probably don’t have to go far for take-out, gourmet shops, fast food, bakeries, coffee shops, or other sources of sustenance. Perhaps you have lots of great stuff in your house right now!

If that is the case, you live in a world with an abundance of good food. No scarcity for you! So why do you view holiday feasts like they might be your last meal?

It’s All About Changing Your Mindset

What if you approached the holidays with a different mindset? What if you thought,

There is so much good food in my life on a regular basis. The holidays are just another opportunity to enjoy delicious things to eat.

I’m going to savor my favorite holiday foods without overeating. I’m going to be selective because I deserve only the most delicious foods. I also deserve to feel great, and I don’t feel very good when I’m stuffed.

Adopt this abundance mindset, and use the following guidelines to enjoy holiday deliciousness without gaining weight:

Give Yourself Permission to Eat the Foods You Love When You Are Hungry

If you eat when you aren’t hungry, your body will store that energy as fat. If you’ve got a dinner or party to attend, plan so that you arrive hungry. But NOT TOO hungry. When you’re too hungry, you’re less discerning about what to eat.

NEVER eat before an event with the idea that you simply won’t eat there. That’s a terrible diet brain strategy that is no fun and more often than not backfires. Willpower is a very unreliable tool for weight management.

Eat Slowly and Reduce Distractions

Don’t think about anything else when you’re eating so you can savor every scrumptious bite. Remember, you’re eating these foods because they taste great, so don’t miss out on the flavor!

You can take a few moments from the conversation to savor your food. That way, you’ll also notice when your body has enough food before you’re too full. Learning how to really taste your food while engaging in conversation is a skill that takes practice.

Stop Eating Before You Feel Lightly Full

You’ll enjoy the food and celebration more without a case of indigestion afterwards. You may be eating richer foods than you normally eat, so keep checking in with your gut.

I like to think about how much food I know my body normally needs to feel lightly full and put that amount on a plate. That way, if I want more, I have to think about it first.

Don’t Eat Anything You Don’t Love

Be discerning. Check out the offerings and decide what you want most. You deserve only the best!

If You DO Overeat, Don’t Use That as an Excuse to Go Bonkers

Don’t indulge in continuous overeating through the holidays and beyond with that “what the heck, I already blew it” attitude.

Remember your abundance mindset. There is no shortage of delicious food in your life, so you don’t have to eat everything that’s in front of you NOW. You can just wait until you’re hungry again to have some of those great leftovers, or to get something else yummy.

Plan Ahead

Think about what you really love and what you could do without. Do not choose certain foods to please others. If you’re not fond of your daughter’s sweet potato casserole, she’ll still love you if you don’t take any. Don’t cave to pressure by food pushers either.

Visualize Yourself at the Party Eating the Way You Plan to Eat

Take a few minutes to picture yourself at the party taking a reasonable amount of food and enjoying it along with the conversation. See yourself eating slowly and not overeating.

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you experience in real life and what you visualize, so you’re more likely to stick to the plan if you practice it ahead of time.

I hope you are able to allow yourself to enjoy the foods of the holiday season without guilt. No one should feel guilty about eating food. Happy Holidays!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you struggle with the most when it comes to eating habits during the holidays? Do you cave into pressure when deciding what meals to eat? Do you eat with a mindset of scarcity or abundance? Please share your thoughts and any strategies that have worked for you in the past.

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Everything in moderation. I will try all sorts of foods that are being offered, but only a sample size. It seems to work for me.


I most struggle with well-meaning friends and family over the holidays who INSIST that I try their dish or dessert even though I am quite good without it. I have many friends in their 60s (as I am) who really don’t monitor their intake, even though they know I do, as I just lost 20 lbs. Thank you for your wonderful blogs!

The Author

Shari Broder retired from being a health coach. She recorded a whole lot of podcast episodes on her Weight Loss for Foodies podcast before she unplugged from work and decided to travel the world instead. She has extensive experience working with foodies who want to be a healthy weight. She's taught women how to ditch diets, stop emotional eating, and enjoy the foods they love while losing their desire to overeat along with their excess weight. All resources on her website are free.

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