Holiday festivities go hand-in-hand with tempting belt-busters. Calorie bomb desserts, butter-laden mashed potatoes, and alcoholic drinks can leave you feeling uncomfortably full and sabotage your weight maintenance efforts. In fact, a typical Thanksgiving meal can contain a whopping 3,000 calories, according to the Calorie Control Council. But overeating isn’t your unavoidable destiny. Heed these simple, smart tips to ensure a healthy, happy party season.

Registered dietitian
Holley Grainger, RD,, Birmingham, Alabama

  • Indulge (a little). If you completely deprive yourself, you’ll think too much about the food you want and end up bingeing. Be intentional about what you eat. Choose foods that are special to you and that you can only eat once a year. For example, eat a small slice of your uncle’s famous pumpkin pie rather than a buttered bread roll.

  • Mind your merlot. If you choose to drink, pick a small glass. A typical 5-ounce serving of wine contains about 125 calories. But because some wine glasses are larger, what appears to be a normal serving may actually be twice as much. A smaller glass also encourages you to sip more slowly. Better yet, order zero-calorie seltzer with a squeeze of lime.

  • Make a plan. When faced with a buffet, refrain from diving in. Set a quick game plan so you don’t cram your plate with the foods at the beginning of the buffet. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies and leave the other half for lean meats, cheeses, sides, and any indulgent treats. Mindfully choosing foods before eating them helps you control portions.

Rebecca Sang, CWH, Nurtured by Nature, Berkeley, California

  • Stabilize blood sugar. You often overeat because blood sugar drops, leading you to reach for quick-energy carbohydrates like white bread, crackers, and cookies. If you’re prone to overeating, try gymnema, an herb that delays glucose absorption, stabilizing blood sugar. Take 15–30 drops gymnema tincture twice per day, morning and night.

  • Take bitters. If you know you’re about to have a big, heavy meal, bitter herbs stimulate your liver to better process fats and complex carbohydrates that can cause digestive distress. Place 2–5 drops of Oregon grape root tincture onto your tongue 10–15 minutes before you eat.

  • Soothe with ginger. At some point almost everyone overeats and experiences symptoms like nausea, bloating, heartburn, and gas. Ginger is a centuries-old remedy that can alleviate indigestion—and it works quickly. Simmer 4 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger in 2 cups water for 10–15 minutes; sip slowly after eating.

Denise Lamothe, PsyD, author, The Taming of the Chew (Penguin, 2002)

  • Snack smart. An hour or two before an event, eat a small snack containing fiber, fat, and protein so you won’t be ravenous during your meal. Good choices include whole-wheat crackers with a smear of nut butter, hummus with carrot and celery sticks, or a handful of almonds.

  • Tame emotions. Overeating often stems from emotional issues. During the holidays, women are especially prone to taking care of others rather than themselves, causing stress to accumulate. It’s easy to turn to sugary, fatty comfort foods in hopes of alleviating this stress. Instead, nurture yourself during stressful times: Meditate, take a yoga class, go for a solo walk, or treat yourself to a massage.

  • Stay in charge. Before the event, write on an index card a positive affirmation such as “I am not a servant to food” or “I feel better about myself when I eat healthy foods.” If you feel tempted to overindulge, quietly step into the restroom and read the card. This will trigger your self-awareness and resolve.