OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

  1. Remember that you are in control of your life. What you put in your mouth happens because you put it there.
  2. Avoid deprivation. Deprivation sets up a mental craving for food.
  3. Remember that you are not obligated to eat to please someone else. Be polite and say "No, I couldn't eat another bite." Or, "No thank you". Or, "I'll pass for now."
  4. Don't use the holidays as an "excuse" to eat more than you normally would.
  5. Don't starve yourself before big meals. It will only make you overly hungry, which leads to overeating and that "stuffed" feeling.
  6. Eat only the foods you like best at each party. Why bother with the rest?
  7. Skip or limit the eggnog, after-dinner liqueurs, or mixed drinks.
  8. Healthy food can be tantalizing too. Reaching for healthy food rather than junk food becomes a habit with practice.
  9. Do not think of food in terms of "good foods/bad foods". This adds a moral judgment onto food, which the food does not inherently have. It sets up a system where a person feels guilty if they eat a "bad food" and feels sanctimonious if they eat a "good food". Rather, try to think in terms of how much of a food you want to eat.
  10. Try to eat about the same amount of food at holiday dinners than you would normally eat at dinner. Even if there is more food available, you can take a little less of everything and thereby eat about the same amount.
  11. Eat slowly. Listen and talk with others.
  12. Don't buy lots of candy for children. Not only will it help children eat healthier, you won't be tempted to eat it if it's not around.
  13. Focus on how wonderful the food tastes, rather than how much of it you "get to" eat. Just because it's Thanksgiving, doesn't mean you need three helpings.
  14. Remember how unpleasant it feels to be too full after a meal. Gauge yourself during a meal until you feel "just right". Stop eating.
  15. Don't skip dessert, but use moderation. Savor the flavor.
  16. Don't use food as a drug to numb unpleasant feelings. For example, if you feel annoyed with someone, try to get away from the person rather than eat to numb the irritation.
  17. If traditions such as holiday cookies tend to be trigger food for you, try to break this tradition. There is no law that says you have to bake cookies for the holidays.
  18. Plan what you eat and drink. For example, "Today is Thanksgiving, so I'm going to have a light breakfast and a light lunch. I'll have one helping of everything at dinner, small seconds of a few favorites, and I'll have one dessert."
  19. Plan how you eat. Do conscious eating rather than unconscious eating. Taste the stuff. Chew it. Enjoy it.
  20. If you have to be at a function with certain people that make you feel uncomfortable, plan ways to excuse yourself from their immediate presence. If possible, surround yourself with calm people whose company you enjoy.
  21. If you feel you need to, set some boundaries for yourself by telling people ahead of time that you do not want anyone to comment on your appearance or your eating.
  22. Practice some responses to make to people who may say something to you that would make you feel uncomfortable.
  23. Last but not least. If you do eat more than you wish you had, don't berate yourself and feel hopeless. Focus on the healthy choices you did make, and consider that progress. Keep working on developing these healthy habits.

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