5 tips for Celebratory Eating

Healthy Holiday Eating

As a Health & Psychology of Eating coach, you might think I’d have some pithy advice about making your celebratory eating healthy.

You might have expected me to say:

  • Start your meal with a big green salad
  • Fill 2/3 of your plate with veggies
  • For every glass of wine, drink 2 glasses of water

Now even though all those ideas are worthwhile, here’s what I really want to say to you about celebratory eating…

It happens!

We are social beings and we love to celebrate.

We have foods that come around once a year, they remind us of  holidays, people, history, traditions and more!

I’m NOT about dieting and depriving yourself, I’m about enjoying yourself fully…AND…I have 5 very specific tips that will help you navigate your celebratory or holiday eating

#1: Thanksgiving advice for staying in control at the tableListen to your body when it says 


Now that sounds so simple, but you and I know it’s not.

The reality is – the food at your feast is luscious looking; the company is lively; the family dynamics are flying – and it’s really easy to skip the moment your body says “stop, I’m done for now.”

Frankly, most of us would rather not hear that first gentle “I”m full” whisper from our body. We don’t want to stop eating.

Of course we don’t want to stop!! It’s fun to eat! It’s delicious! And for goodness sakes, it’s a holiday or a celebration! 

So we ignore the “I’m full” message until our body starts talking really loud. Often we don’t listen until it screams “I’m stuffed!” – and then unfortunately what often goes hand in hand with “I’m stuffed” is – “Oh, I wish I hadn’t eaten so much.”

So these tips are ways to help you listen to “I’m full” and to respect what it needs – which is to stop eating.

2. Pause every now and then during your feast. 

Not just a simple lay-down of your fork, but really PAUSE. Have a great conversation with someone, lean back in your chair and take in the scene. Pause. It takes 20 minutes for the “I’m full” message to go from the belly to the brain. So give it some time to get there.

Thanksgiving advice for eating healthy3. Promise yourself you can have more…later.

Many of us don’t want to hear “I”m full” because it means we don’t get any more of the delicious food in front of us. So promise yourself you can have more. You may even want to set your food aside, so that you’re sure it doesn’t get eaten by someone else. Do whatever it takes to assure yourself that there will be more available to you later.

4. Let yourself be sad that your tummy can only fit so much.

Being sad about having a stomach the size of your fist (which is how big our stomachs really are), may sound melodramatic. But honestly, I’ve punctuated many a meal with “I’m so sad.”

  • I get sad because I’m full and I love eating, and I do wish I had more room.
  • I feel a bit sad because I’m having a good time, and I don’t want to stop having fun.

I’m not lay-down-and-sob sad, but there’s a moment of “bummer, the party is over” and “thanks so much for the great time, I’ll see ya later dear food.”

It’s so important to acknowledge that moment of loss, because it brings us to the honesty of the moment. And in that honesty, we can really listen to our body. If we can hear our body’s message, we can respect its needs, and stop eating when it says stop.

We’re not always perfect (I’m not, for sure!), and sometimes we don’t listen to what our body is saying. In those moments, deep self-compassion is what’s necessary.

5. Take Bitters!

Bitters will help your digestion and help your body cope with the extra special foods you might be enjoying.

Here’s more about bitters and the ones that I use the most.

I encourage you during holiday time and celebratory to not only enjoy the special relationships you have with your friends and family, but also to take the time to deepen your relationship with yourself, and listen deeply to what your body is saying to you.


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Nina Manolson, MA, CHC, certified Health Coach and Psychology of Eating Coach believes that every woman deserves to feel good in her own body. She helps women create a healthy and positive relationship with their food and body so they can love their body and life!  She’s the founder of NinaManolson.com and NourishedWomanNation.com 

She helps busy women look and feel their best. She specializes in working with women over 40 who have tried other diets and approaches but are still struggling with their body and food. She helps women step into a new wellness paradigm that makes self-care real and do-able and turns it into sustainable healthy habits that

She’s the author of “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t: an everyday guide to make healthy food happen in your home and beyond”. She’s also the recipient of the prestigious Health Leadership Award from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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