Angie’s Top Tips for Avoiding Over-indulgence

This Wednesday I lead a workshop in Brattleboro called Happy, Healthy Holidays: Healthy Hosting (and guest-ing!). The workshop focused on keeping holiday cuisine easy to digest, and specialty diet-friendly. I also touched upon everyone’s favorite elephant near the holiday table: emotional eating and over-indulgence.

As a pre-Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Solstice/etc./etc. treat to you, I give you…


  • Go in with a plan!!!
  1. Know your triggers! – If pie is your downfall, then solemnly swear to yourself (and a witness if necessary) that you will only have so much, and that’s. it. (One small slice, or maximum of two for example.)
  2. Set your limits before you even see the food. Before you leave home? Three days ahead? Whatever it takes to get those limits solidly in your brain so that the chances of ditching the game plan are slim.
  3. Visualize how you’d like to feel after the meal: vibrant and energized? Content and light? Most likely you don’t want to feel bloated, grumpy, tired and guilt-ridden.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. The stressful (and potentially awkward or dramatic) act of large family or friend gatherings can lead us to slug back one too many Irish Coffees in an effort to simply calm the nerves. Again, set limits beforehand, and be sure to alternate each adult beverage with a glass of water. Speaking of which…
  • Drink water! Not only will water keep you hydrated at Grandma’s 106 degree house, but you will feel more full and hopefully won’t try to indulge in second helpings of the entire feast.
  • Reach for a cup of hot cider or tea. Often, our deep emotional needs and wants drive our desire to eat certain foods (salty, sweet, childhood treats) and in certain quantities (a LOT or not at all). The warmth of a hot beverage soothes the stomach and the nerves. If you have a nervous stomach, try ginger tea, or a cup of chamomile to aid in digestion after your meal.
  • Take a break! After the meal, play a game, take a walk, or sit around and chat with your hosts and other guests.
  • Engage in conversation. After all, the holidays are a time to get together with loved ones. For many of us, this means friends and family that we don’t see very often. Look up from your plate, take a breather, and catch up with your cousin, brother, aunt or old friend. It seems silly but the more time you spend talking, the less time you spend eating. These conversation (and hopefully water) breaks also allows the food you have had to digest a bit, and gives your stomach time to signal to your brain that it is full.
  • Stop when you’re full. This is a tough one. The feast that is provided to us during the holidays used to be the bounty of the harvest season, and would be celebrated before a winter of famine. In modern times, there is much less famine in our daily lives, and certainly not the same lack of caloric foods. Eat slowly, and take a break when you feel full. You may feel like a slice of pie after that chamomile tea, but you might not. That’s the beauty of leftovers.

Best of luck to you all this holiday season! Stay vibrant and healthy!


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