You have the ultimate say on when you're ready to stop the holiday eating.

Listen to your body, and give yourself the permission to say no to food when you’ve had enough. You have the ultimate say on when you’re ready to stop the holiday eating.


Holiday meals are often remembered as a time when everyone eats past fullness. It’s almost normal and common to fill the dinner plate to the brim and then go back for seconds…sometimes thirds.

There may even be many holidays in which you can remember feeling sick afterwards, finding it necessary to even go lie down right after dinner to “sleep off” the meal.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some overindulgence at holiday meal times, but there comes a point when you truly can’t eat any more but are still finding yourself doing it anyway. Here are a two common scenarios to consider holding space for yourself:

1. You don’t love it.

Many find it difficult to skip out on meal selections that perhaps, they wouldn’t normally eat. For example, even if you don’t love green beans, you still feel compelled to put them on your holiday meal plate just because they’re there. Some reasons may be because you want to “get in your vegetables”, or “they were there, so I thought I should eat them.” There’s no reason to eat it if you don’t really enjoy the taste.  

Sometimes, the best way to care for yourself is to learn to say no.

If you don’t love the green beans and you’re only eating them because a “food rule” has told you to eat all your veggies, or just because they were there, then mark this as your freedom to say no. Instead, choose to eat items at the holiday meal that you truly love. For example, this time of year may be the only time you can enjoy Grandma’s apple pie. The pie is something you definitely want to make room for, so why take up some of that room with green beans you don’t love and can have any time of the year?

2. Eating to make someone else happy.

Often times, we will eat holiday food items in order to make others happy. There is a lot of pressure to eat all foods because you don’t want to offend the host or the cook. This can quickly turn into a problem if you are going to multiple engagements and there are multiple hosts to please.

Many individuals are blessed with multiple family gatherings, sometimes back-to-back in the same day where they feel obligated to eat at every get-together. Again, it’s a cultural expectation to eat during the holiday season. Many fear offending the host or the cook if they skip certain food selections, or if they were to not eat altogether.  

Practice saying no in these circumstances. Sure, it’s possible someone may become slightly curious about why you’re not eating, but remember that most individuals will be in the same boat as you. Your family members will learn over time to expect and respect your choice to not overindulge.

With all this said, the most important tip is to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues this holiday season.

The holiday meals are a time to celebrate and engage in fellowship with others, which usually involves food. It’s almost considered “normal” to eat past your fullness cues this time of year, so don’t view it as problematic when you do so. However, you are the one who decides what’s best for you when you’re choosing what to eat.

Just recognize it as an act of self-care when you’re saying no to holiday eating.

Adapted from the original article.

Amber Madden, MA, LPCA is a Kentucky-based licensed mental health counselor specializing in treating eating disorders. As the creator of “Beat the Binge”, a 6-week online program, she helps individuals tackle their food rules and break free from the struggles of disordered eating, binge eating, and emotional eating. Learn more about Amber at Bloom Nutrition Therapy.