When Food is Love

When the holidays arrive, there’s often no way to avoid being stuck in the house with lots of relatives, friends … and fattening food. Check out these tips to help you cope.  

Be Helpful Anywhere but in the Kitchen

It’s easy to nibble when you’re surrounded by food in various stages of preparation. Volunteer for other duties: cleaning up, setting the table, being bartender, running errands—anything that doesn’t involve food.

Be the Activity Director

Take the lead in suggesting non-eating activities that the family can do together, from playing charades to building a snowman.

Grab a Water Bottle

When there are lots of high-calorie-beverages around, it helps to have an alternative ready. Keep a glass or bottle of water handy.

Hang With the Kids

If all the adults are circling the food table, spend time with the children. At most ages, kids are more likely than adults to be doing something active. Their energy and playfulness can help distract you from food.

Get Lost

If the sight and smell of all that food becomes just too much for you, excuse yourself and get out of the house. Take a stroll or go for a drive.

Practice the Art of Saying “No Thanks”

Casually mention to everyone in advance that you’re on a diet and watching portion sizes. Make it clear that you don’t want to offend anyone but that it’s very important for you to keep an eye on how much you eat.

Compliment Early and Often

If you’re oohing and aahing after the first bite, it won’t seem as if you disliked the dish when you turn down seconds later.

Pace Yourself

If you know Aunt Bev’s feelings will be hurt when you don’t sample her pecan pie, plan your meal accordingly. Help yourself to smaller portions of the main course so you have a little extra room—and some extra calories to spare—when dessert rolls around.

Say Yes to a Little

Sometimes it’s easier to take a small portion than refuse everything and find yourself staring at an empty plate while everybody enjoys dessert. But be sure that you control the serving size, not Aunt Bev.

Use Delaying Tactics

You can avoid offending people by saying “Maybe later,” or “I’m so full right now I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Let me wait a little while.” Once the plates are cleared away and the festivities move on to the next stage, no one will remember that you didn’t have dessert.

Take it Home

Another strategy to avoid eating more than you want is simple flattery. When the offer for seconds comes along, rave about how great everything was—and ask if you can take a serving home rather than have seconds now.