Christmas,  education,  nutrition

Holiday tips: the dreaded buffet

Christmas looms large & people are not only thinking about what to eat, they are also worrying about how much they’ll eat. Often this leads to a lot of anxiety & stress which – you guessed it – leads to more eating.

But don’t fret, all is not lost. I have some great tips to help you navigate the mine-field that is holiday eating.

Do the rounds

Make sure you check out everything that’s on offer before you decide what to have. Then you’ll know how much of each item you can fit on the plate & avoid accidentally over-loading it.


Have what you love, not what you like

Choose the good quality foods you really enjoy & avoid eating everything in sight. If you dish up a bit of everything, chances are your plate will be fuller than if you choose a selection of good foods you really enjoy. Stick to things you tend to only eat at Christmas rather than every day foods.


Use a smaller plate/bowl

Limited space equals less food!

When we have a small amount of food on a large plate we are more likely to think we need more than if you use dish up the same amount on a smaller plate.


Serve up less than you think you’ll need

This is a great trick. Serve up less than you think you need & only go back for more if you are actually still hungry. Try to wait around 20 minutes before going for another round – give your body a chance to tell you you’re full. Chances are you’ll feel satisfied after the first round & won’t need seconds.

This is also great if you are eating with people who tend to go back for more. You won’t feel left out & your 2 serves will only end up being the equivalent of 1 plate rather than 2.

You’ll also feel pleasantly full instead of over-stuffed & uncomfortable.


Use smaller serving utensils

This helps with both using a small plate & serving up small portion sizes. You’d be surprised how much less you’ll plonk on your plate using this strategy.


Location, location, location

It’s a good idea to avoid standing/sitting around the buffet table. Try to remove temptation by standing out of reach & preferably out of eyesight.


Bring something

Do this whether you’re asked to or not. Even if you’re told you don’t need to. That way, even if there are no healthy options provided by your host you’ll have something there you really enjoy that supports your goals.


Eat Slowly

I’m sure you’ve heard this before but it takes a while for our brain to register that we’re full. If you eat slowly you’re more likely to avoid over-eating because you give yourself a better chance of stopping when you’re full.

Here are a few strategies that will help you with this:

Take a sip of water between bites: this will not only keep you hydrated but will help with digestion.

Place down your cutlery between bites. Finish your mouthful & swallow before going in for another bite.

Chew slowly, really savour your food.

Chat! You can’t eat when you’re talking.


Have a hot drink instead of dessert

There are a lot of reasons why some people would rather avoid dessert altogether. Perhaps there is nothing there that is healthy or the serving sizes are too large. Perhaps you are afraid if you have even a little you’ll lose control & fall off the wagon.

Whatever your reason, having a warm drink instead of dessert means you’ll be consuming something while everyone else is having dessert so you won’t feel left out.

Hot drinks also help you feel full so you’ll feel satisfied.

If you really want something sweet & decadent there are a lot of sugar-free hot chocolate powders available now. If you can find sugar-free marshmallows you can indulge in something special without too many extra kilojoules/calories.


It’s all about compensation

Keeping your other meals light on the big day healthy & light means you have extra kilojoules/calories to use for the buffet.

Have small serves of healthy food full of good nutrients & avoid anything heavy or rich.

This is particularly good if you have Christmas lunch instead of dinner (as we tend to do here in Australia) because it helps send a signal to your brain that you’re back to a normal diet.

If you feel like you’ve eaten too much on Christmas day, keep your food light & healthy the next day.


Well, that’s it. I hope you found some tips that you’ll find useful on the big day/s. Just relax & enjoy yourself – no stressing!

Just remember, one day of over-eating in a  generally healthy diet won’t make you unhealthy just as one day of eating well in a generally unhealthy diet won’t make you healthy.

In short, don’t freak out, just stay calm & keep it to one or two days.


Would personalised one-on-one consultations with me help empower you to stay healthy over the holiday period. Do you need more general help with your diet, lifestyle &/or weight? If the answer is yes check out my 1:1 consultations or packages. I’d love to help.


Did you find this post useful?

Do you have any questions or anything else to add?

Please leave a comment or send me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

I’d also love to know what you’d like to see in future posts. If you’d like me to write about something in particular, please let me know.

Thankyou so much for joining me for this post.

Happy reading!



Kathryn Carter

I’m Kath, qualified nutritionist & personal trainer. I believe a personalised, flexibile approach to gaining physical & mental well-being is necessary for achieving sustainable lifestyle changes that support both these aspects of health. In the near future I will be offering a range of nutrition & lifestyle education services designed to gain the life my clients want in a way that works for them.

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