Holiday Dieting Tips: How to Indulge Without the Bulge

The holidays are a time of abundance. So how can you celebrate while practicing girth control?

It’s not just what you do during this season, it’s how you eat the rest of the year that truly makes a difference. Keep to a healthier diet leading up to the holidays, to leave room for treats. I can motivate myself to exercise a bit more before the season if I know I’m going to indulge later on.

The key to a healthy dietistockphoto.comThe key to a healthy diet is balance.
It helps to view foods as a spectrum of choices, not as rigid “good” and “bad” foods. Once you label foods as “bad,” you may feel you’re a bad person when you eat them. This often leads to a vicious circle, in which you may say, “I feel so bad about cheating that I might as well just eat everything now.”

Instead, find ways to strike a balance: If you indulge one day, eat better the next. Likewise, if you don’t have time to exercise one day, do a little extra the next. Can’t meditate for 20 minutes? Do it for one — consistency is more important than duration.

The people with the best diet overall allow for indulgences. So if you eat a balanced diet, there’s room for the occasional scoop of ice cream. Finding a combination of being mindful of what and how you eat and allowing yourself treats can make the holidays joyful, not stressful.

When someone offers you food at a party or dinner, have a few bites and tell them how delicious it is. Thank them for the love and caring they put into making it for you. That will be more meaningful to them than if you just ate the whole thing. At a buffet, fill part of your plate with foods that are high in fiber and low in fat, sugar and salt, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Put sauces on the side; dip the tip of your fork in when you take a bite to get the flavor with fewer calories. If you’re hosting a party, try to offer a wide range of choices, from the most healthful to the most indulgent.

In our research, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to focus on diet and exercise; we need to address what motivates us. For many people, the holidays are depressing, and when people are down, they often overeat and drink to numb these feelings of pain. To offset these negative emotions, call a wise friend, do charity work, or talk with your local minister or a therapist. Then, the holidays can be a time for transforming our lives rather than our waistlines.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.