Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. They appeal to our senses in so many ways, and it becomes super easy to overindulge on those special days.

Alas, the overeating doesn’t always stop when the holidays are over.  Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals. (Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  To ramp up this hack, add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your water.  This super-simple tip may even help you with your weight loss goals.

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the temptation (ahem, holiday meal), thus leaving less tummy room for the feast, but drinking more water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.  Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness, but have you applied that concept to your eating habits?  It can totally help you avoid overeating; plus, it will give your digestion a big boost.

Being mindful when you meditate helps you to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment; similarly, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.  And that’s when the magic begins!

Create mindfulness by taking smaller bites of your meal, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture of each bite. Eating in a more leisurely manner often means that you end up eating less.  And breathe!

Here’s the thing:  when you eat quickly, you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your stomach is full.  So take your time, pay attention to your food, and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points if you:

  • Eat at a table, not in front of a screen (that includes the television AND the phone);
  • Use a small plate rather than a full-size dinner plate; and
  • Put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish, but don’t start there. Don’t worry, you can have some. . .  just after you’ve eaten your salad!  ?

Veggies are a great way to start any meal. Not only are they full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals; they also also contain some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.  Fiber and water are known to help make you feel fuller.  They’re satiating.  And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal, like Thanksgiving dinner.


Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.