The One Trick You Need to Outsmart a Holiday Eating Binge

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.  |  Tuesday, November 22, 2016
It's easy to feel like healthy habits take a backseat this time of year with the onslaught of holiday parties. There are sure to be plenty of cookies, eggnog, chocolate and cocktails. You may try to convince yourself that these treats are limited-time-only specials—that come January, the healthy eating will start. That attitude can set you up for an all-or-nothing gorge on treats during the holiday season with plans to abstain next year.
Instead, say to yourself, "I can have it some other time." That simple phrase may help you overcome your cravings, says a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. When people were served M&Ms and instructed to tell themselves that they'd treat themselves "some other time"—versus totally abstaining—they ate less chocolate in the moment and over the course of the following week. When you use this vague phrasing instead of "never," it tells your brain that you don't really care about that food, making it easier to turn it down. Go to your next holiday party armed with this phrase and that cookie platter has nothing on you.
Here are other strategies to help you eat healthier this holiday season:
Start your day with a healthy protein-packed breakfast. Protein is very satisfying and helps keep you full until lunchtime. These recipes are great for hectic mornings because you can take them to go.
Get a good night's sleep. It can be tough during this busy time of year, but losing out on sleep makes you more likely to chow down on calories the next day.
Drink a little less wine (on the sly) If you're going to pour yourself a glass of wine, do it the right way! Follow these 3 tricks to stick to a standard 5-ounce pour.
Don't cut out treats altogether. That goal is not only unrealistic, but banning sugary foods completely may also lead to overeating, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Saying no to sweets completely may make you more stressed, and increased stress can lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you'll binge on junk food.
Forgive any diet slip-ups. Don't beat yourself up if you eat or drink a little more than you intended one day. It happens to the best of us. Instead of feeling down about it, let it go and get right back on track.
Some original reporting by Jessica Migala for EatingWell magazine.
Related:
Healthy Party-Ready Appetizers
5 Tips to Host a Healthy Holiday Party
Healthy High-Protein Lunches to Pack for Work