Busting the Top 5 Excuses to Overindulge During the Holidays

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Everyone was eating…even the mouse! 
The most wonderful time of the year is back, and that means one thing: notorious holiday parties! Between the office buffet, neighborhood open house, family gatherings, religious festivities, and community get-togethers, sticking to a healthy eating plan becomes, well, difficult to say the least. 

The reason? Simple. Tempting, high fat, calorie-laden dishes are the common denominator of almost every holiday celebration. And excuses for overindulgence are as easy to find as holiday cheer. 
Check out the following excuses. If any of them sounds familiar, don’t worry. SparkPeople has the strategies to help you deal with these excuses, and still enjoy the holiday season.
Excuse #1: The food looks and tastes so good! How can I resist?
It’s true—there will be plenty of terrific foods. But will you feel good after you eat them? Imagine yourself overindulging. How do you feel afterwards? Was the taste really worth it? Could you have received the same pleasure with a smaller amount?
Excuse #2: It’s a special occasion. It only comes once a year.
The holidays only come once a year, but the parties, events, and gifts of food never seem to end! Stop and decide which ones are really worth the splurge. When it is time for the splurge, bank calories from earlier in the day.
Excuse #3: Everyone else is eating. The hostess will be offended.
Just because everyone is eating does not mean that you have to eat everything too. Choosing smaller portions shouldn’t offend anyone. Remember, “If you half-it, you can have it.” And sometimes it may be necessary to “just say no”.
Excuse #4: I should offer desserts to the company in my home.
Keeping your favorite desserts at home usually spells trouble. When treats are in the house, more of the dessert usually ends up in you, rather than your guests. Therefore, keep some low fat, low-calorie alternatives on hand. Check out SparkPeople’s Dessert Recipes for some ideas. Make a trip to your local library and flip through the healthy holiday cooking magazines and books for other creative alternatives.
Excuse #5: I’ll get back to my healthy eating plan tomorrow.
This thinking is okay, as long as it is realistic. Make sure an occasional splurge does NOT become a repeated excuse (or turn into “next week” or “next month”). 

Putting It All Together…
The best defense against holiday eating disasters is a combination of both planning and strategy: 
1.  Take inventory. Identify all the situations that make it difficult for you to eat healthy during the holiday season. Is it office parties? Food courts at the shopping mall? Family gatherings? Extra baking and cooking at home?
2.  Plan a system of attack. For example:
  • Bring a low calorie appetizer to the office party.
  • Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. 
  • Use healthier substitutions and make a low-calorie, low-fat dessert for the family gathering.
  • Budget calories throughout the day, so you can afford to spend a few more at the party.
  • Burn extra calories in a longer-than-usual exercise session. Some research shows that adding just 10 more minutes of intense exercise to your usual workout can stave off holiday weight gain. 
  • Stay focused by getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.

3.  Remember to reward. Making it through the holidays can be hard work. Establish a reward system to stay motivated along the way. Deposit a pre-determined amount of money (the amount should be based on what you can financially afford) in a jar every week that you are able to follow your healthy eating plan. Then after the holidays—when the sales are big—go out and buy something special just for you!

4.  Stay positive. Everyone makes mistakes, so there will be times when even the most disciplined person will slip. Don’t worry or stress during these mishaps—it is critical to get back on track. Staying positive is half the battle. 
Remember, armed with a good plan and a positive attitude...
You will be nestled all snug in your bed,
While visions of carrot sticks (and low-calorie dip) dance in your head.
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Member Comments

Excellent advice. I have made very similar plans to get me through the holiday “eating” season this year. Report
Good article. Report
this was just what I needed Thanks so much

Good information. Thank you Report
Thank You, Weight loss and healty eating has been the norm in my family , I have just started to try to eat healty and became a vegan this July and have made some of the suggestions stated above allready, vegan turkey and vegetables; like collard greens with patatoes and hot peppers, sounds like a thanksgiving after all.

As a side note here; while buting meat alternatives watch the sodium, I have found massive amounts of sodium in store bought seitan and veggie burgers, making your own mock meats can be much more healther giving that you control the ingredients.

Healthly thanksgiving. Report
You are stronger than you think you are. Report
Thanks for this! I DID bring & ate my raw veggies & onion dip I made with non fat Greek yogurt! Yummy, but 3 cookies AND seconds for dinner. I NEVER do that! I even ate before we went, a lovely fat free salad, with chicken breast & egg whites. STILL too much food. Today is MUCH more controlled, no party today! Report
With Christmas approaching, this is a very useful article! I'm known to have fooled myself with all of these excuses... But this year I'm serious about losing weight so I know better, and I have an attack plan! I like your "If it's half-it, I can have it" motto and I'll remember it all through the holiday season! Report
I've started making "mini" treats. Instead of making a pan of brownies that I can cut any size, I make mini brownies in my mini muffin pans. When I make Christmas cookies (a tradition in my house), I make them smaller than the recipe says to. Nobody even notices!

I'm going to a neighborhood holiday party this week, and instead of making a rich dessert, I'm making decorated cake balls. This gives everyone the opportunity to taste the dessert, instead of eating a whole slice of cake. I do the same thing with appetizers. Report
Remember - if anyone should be offended by your responsible food choices, well, then, isn't it time to rethink that relationship? Report
Carrots, maybe...but low calorie dip is never gonna dance in my head.....And the mouse
Ain't ....that's right I said ain't getting nothing for Christmas....ok..
.perhaps some crumbs!

Great Article!
I have a party tonight, Thanksgiving next week and 3 parties the first week in December. Really appreciated these ideas. I also plan to track my foods even if I indulge as I tend to skip that task. I will even log the next day as I don't know what is on the menu. Report
Use and Ice Cream Scoop to control portions two scoops is about a half of a cup. I cook the Thanksgiving Dinner so there are plenty of veggie's for tomorrow. Report
Thank you for reminding people about the cookbooks at the library! We are often a forgotten resource in the fight for a healthier lifestyle!
I like Becky's suggestions for developing "a system of attack." The holiday excuse that I use most often is Special Occasion. I also eat more due to stress and nervousness. I've always felt very uncomfortable at social gatherings and rather than make awkward conversation, I reach for something to keep my hands and mouth busy. Having recognized this issue, however, I hope to make a change this year. Report


About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.