Don't Gobble Gobble Gobble: 10 Tips Not To Overeat This Year

By Jessica Poole, Certified Athletic Trainer

Well, it’s the eating time of year again.

The holidays are here and in the next few weeks we will have our fill of all the fixings. From parties to get-togethers to multiple family celebrations of giving thanks we will eat and eat and eat some more. Bowl games, Sunday football, office parties galore -- we will all have more than one function that revolves around food.

Don’t get me wrong, this is the best part of fall and winter.

As a foodie and cook, I love to entertain and cook indulgent treats for family and friends this time of the year. I even give food gifts.

So, how do we keep our waists trim and our cholesterol down?

Today I want to share some tips to help us through the holidays. I mean, we love our cardiologists, but let’s control those risk factors, right?

Moderation is so important to holiday munching. Do you really need a third helping of dessert? Did you leave any for others (that’s my problem with my salted caramel chocolate pecan pie…) Self-control is key. A little bit of everything, moderate dessert plates, mixing the splurges with light sides -- give it a try.

No deprivation. Depriving yourself of the indulgent dishes does one of two things: it makes us angry or it makes us we lose self-control. That’s when we find ourselves dragging out all the leftovers and eating them all at midnight.  So, devise a healthy game plan prior to holiday events and stick to the plan. Treat yourself and use a healthy approach to eating before and after the event.

Plan your plate. Seek out the healthy sides at the events you attend. To make sure there’s a healthy side dish you like, bring one along as your contribution to the meal. Load your plates with the healthy vegetable dishes and take smaller portions of the heavier dishes.

Small portions. Choose three or four favorites, take small portions and leave the rest. You are not obligated to eat every dish or clean out the dishes. Most people love to take home leftovers, at least the busy mothers of preschoolers do. If the party is at your house, provide plastic containers to divvy up leftovers among your guests.

Avoid the heart attack veggies. Sure, green beans are healthy, but not if they’re loaded with bacon grease, butter and tons of salt. Yes. They. Are. Delicious. But all the additions put this normally healthy veggie into the indulgence category. We love my sweet potato casserole. But, it is loaded with brown sugar, butter, eggs, etc. My is it good! But we eat it in moderation and I only make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the year we are eating healthy sweet potatoes roasted with a little olive oil, or mashed with roasted bananas and honey.

Lighten it up. Does your standard potluck dish contain a bazzillion calories? How about firing up your google machine and seeking out a lighter version? Or try something different. The abundant harvest squashes, root vegetables and greens are delicious and make wonderful, fulfilling and hearty sides. Ever try Brussels sprouts with a honey mustard glaze (yum!!) or a balsamic reduction? They are easy to make and take and are lighter than many other Brussels sprouts recipes. What about roasted butternut squash with a balsamic glaze topped with cranberries? I have made all three of these in the past two weeks and wow! Even my littles devoured them. And let’s face it, they are tougher than any food critic! (See the December 4, 2015, blog post for my recipes for these.)

Plan your week. Plan to eat lighter dishes for non-holiday meals this season. Try some meatless Mondays with low calorie, whole wheat pasta dishes. What about lean meat with healthy veggie sides? There are several diet groups that have success with points and calorie counting. Employ the theory and watch what you eat prior to the holiday meals. You may even drop a few pounds before the main event.

Drink! (Water, that is). Have a glass of water before that potluck or event. Not only does your body need water, but this will also fill you up so you don’t eat as much. A simple glass of water can help you control temptation as you stare at the buffet table or those desserts on the counter.

Exercise. Burn off what you eat. You will feel so much better. If you’re already a consistent exerciser, add 10 minutes to each workout to help burn the holiday calories.

Choose your clothing wisely. I’ve read that to help control eating at holiday meals you should wear clothing that’s not stretchy at the waist. It’s a physical reminder not to overeat.


With these tips, you can truly enjoy the holiday meals. All kidding and lecturing aside, plan for the event and go to enjoy. Nothing is worse in my mind than worrying about what and how much I eat. I want to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends at this season of life. I plan on planning ahead, eating sensibly, exercising and enjoying my holidays. And I hope you will do the same.


As always, stay healthy my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!!

For Jessica’s previous posts about fitness, use the blog’s search box, above on the right, and type in Jessica Poole.  To learn more about Gwinnett Medical Center’s complete sports medicine program, including our Running Clinic, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org.

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