Controlling Holiday Excesses

Keeping yourself cool this holiday season.

Melissa Conrad StopplerBy Melissa Conrad Stoppler, M.D.


Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!

October 2006 —As usual, I'm hosting the holiday meals this year for family and friends. While I complain about the stress and chaos, my inner foodie secretly thrives on the challenge. In an earlier, pre-diabetes life, I allowed myself all possible caloric, sugar, and fat excesses after preparing a lavish meal, figuring it was just once (or twice) a year, and I deserved it.

Now, I have to watch my consumption a bit more when I have holiday parties or attend those work-related functions with all the goodie "stations." Not only are the make-your-own quesadilla bars, hors d'oeuvre spreads, and chocolate fondue tables at the parties tempting, but the stress of the holidays also evokes the temptation to nibble your way through the season at home.

I've asked other people living with diabetes or following weight loss programs for some of their best tips for controlling the urge to overeat during the holidays. I think these ten are some of the best ways to help check this unhealthy habit:

1. Practice waiting. Postpone your instant gratification when hunger hits. Tell yourself you'll wait 15, or better 30, minutes to eat after arriving at that holiday party. Allowing yourself to become distracted will probably result in eating less.

2. Keep a list of what you eat each day. Knowing you have to write down every snack or nibble can be a good way to remind yourself to think before eating.

3. One strategy for buffets is to allow yourself one plate – of anything you wish. Even if your choices are not the healthiest, sticking to the one-plate rule will most likely reduce your overall food consumption.

4. Eat only while seated and when not otherwise occupied by a task or in conversation. You'll focus more on eating and won't absentmindedly consume more than you wish.

5. Enlist a friend's help - ideally one who also is tempted by stress-related cravings. When you feel like eating, write him/her a quick note or make a phone call.

6. Keep yourself nourished. Eat regular, healthy snacks to maintain your energy level. Skipping meals while under stress only prompts you to eat more, and unhealthily, when you do get around to eating.

7. Post some reminder messages wherever you're likely to see them when stress-related cravings begin. Use any message that works for you. Examples might be "Are you really hungry?" or "Think about why you're eating."

8. Know yourself - and your weakest times and places. Remove yourself physically from the baked goods in the coffee room at work, take another route to avoid the taco stand, or plan activities to distract you in "hungry" times.

9. Physically remove tempting food items from your home or office. Never go shopping while hungry; bring home only what you feel good about eating.

10. If you can't stop obsessing about food, then indulge yourself. Plan ahead for a special dinner or snack at some point in the future. When cravings hit, think about the treat you have coming.

Read more of Melissa's columns here.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: May 24, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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