10 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Diet Over the Holidays

Maintain a Healthy Diet, The Center for Gynecology & Restorative Medicine, Michelle M. Starke, MD, LLC

The holidays can wreak havoc on your diet, but they don’t have to. Whether it’s a diet plan created by Dr. Starke or one you’ve created yourself, following these tips will help you stick to your diet. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the amazing food without all the guilt later.

1. Create a realistic dietary plan.  

As you enter the holidays, it’s important to know how much you should eat and which foods are better choices for you to indulge in as opposed to those that may seriously harm your diet. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Starke to create a plan for holiday eating before you head out to the parties.

2. Opt for smaller gatherings when possible.

Meals with large groups tend to last longer, giving you more time to have a second or third helping even if you’re no longer hungry. Eating with smaller groups can help you eat less and move on to other activities sooner.

3. Put the focus on people instead of food.

While food is a big part of the holidays, it shouldn’t be the main focus. Instead, shift the focus to friends and family by creating activities to do together, such as ice skating or hiking. A schedule that emphasizes people and activities prevents long meals and snacking during downtime.

4. Assess your options before making your plate.

A common mistake people make is trying to eat a little of everything. It’s a better idea to assess which foods are available and then choose your favorite foods in appropriate portion sizes. This is easiest to do if you wait for all of the food to be served before making your plate.  

5. Offer to help with food preparation.

By cooking, you can opt for healthier recipes and limit cream, butter, and other high-calorie additives commonly found in holiday meals. Even if you only provide one dish, you’ll know there will be something at the meal you can eat and you can show your loved ones that healthy food is just as delicious.

6. Shorten the amount of time you spend around food.

If you’re at a gathering with snacks and finger foods, try to position yourself in a room without food unless you’re actively eating. For sit-down meals, make sure you’re among the last to sit to help reduce your anticipation of the food. Additionally, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself or ask for your plate to be cleared after you’ve finished eating.

7. Choose healthy liquids.

Alcoholic drinks and sweet holiday drinks can pack in loads of calories. They can also make you feel sluggish, which can leave you craving more sweets and fast calories. If you decide to drink these beverages, alternate them with water. The water keeps you hydrated and helps you assess your actual level of fullness throughout the day.

8. Wait 10 minutes before having seconds.

It takes time for your brain to understand your body is full. Anytime you finish a serving, wait about 10 minutes before serving yourself again. Studies show that when people eat according to hunger signals and stop eating according to satiation signals, they tend to have a lower BMI. However, to detect these signals, you have to give yourself time to listen to your body.

9. Give yourself permission to indulge.

While it’s important to maintain your diet throughout the holidays, you should also give yourself permission for small indulgences. If you feel guilty about breaking your diet, you may overeat to compensate for the negative feelings. Or you may be more likely to think you’ve failed, so there’s no point in sticking to your diet. By being gentle with yourself over the holidays, you can avoid these feelings of guilt and inevitability.   

10. Consider pre-eating before parties.

Before you go to a party, consider a small, healthy meal at home. This helps you avoid piling your plate high out of hunger, especially if the meal is delayed for some reason.


If you have trouble with holiday eating or think you need to adjust your diet before the holidays, make an appointment with Dr. Starke. She can help you figure out the best strategies for you to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

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