Why do we overeat and ruin our healthy habits during the holidays?  In my experience as a coach, I believe that it’s related to what I now know as Food FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  I can’t take credit for the term introduced to me a few years ago by Living Healthy List Expert Lauren Yellin Weinberg, MS, NBC-HWC from Lasting Change Wellness.

During an interview, we discussed how to avoid food FOMO in general, which even the most disciplined of us struggle with from time to time.  Below is an excerpt from a recent article published in Brainz MagazineHealthy habits are not about discipline but mindfulness in how and what we eat, exercise, sleep and live our lives.  However, during the holidays those habits fall by the wayside and are often replaced by discipline, which inevitably fails and opens up the floodgates to Food FOMO.

The holidays are not about control and denying yourself the foods that you love.  Food FOMO comes when we fail to plan for the extra food and drinks that will tempt us to eat way too much and enjoy a few extra beverages.

With the family gatherings and celebrations upon us let’s focus on how you can avoid Food FOMO during the holidays.

Step One: Plan

Why do we always indulge on Thanksgiving? It is just one meal, yet most of us put enough food on our plates to equate to 2 and even three meals. And I’m not even adding in dessert! No wonder why we feel full, bloated, and sleepy afterward. Don’t blame the tryptophan in the turkey.  Most likely the amount of food on your plate is the cause. Butter, cream, potatoes, mac and cheese, potatoes, creamy mushroom soup, and French-fried onions may be the culprits. Did I mention stuffing? Hello, carbs. Not that carbs are bad, but all in one sitting is not a good plan.

I’ll admit this all sounds so delicious that my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  The goal here is to avoid Food FOMO during the holidays so, let’s get back to the plan.

Are you the host this year? Great! Then you have control over what gets served. Make it simple. Good food made with simple ingredients tastes the best. Perhaps replace a few calories heavy dishes with lighter ones. I bet your family won’t even notice. You can find thousands of healthier holiday favs online. My trick is to pick the one that looks the most delicious and go with that one.

If you are not hosting, you can always bring a de-lite-ful dish that you will enjoy and have no guilt eating. Aside from that here’s the plan. Before you fill your plate, scan the table, whether family style or buffet and look at everything you could put on your plate. Bypass the typical dishes that you might have on any given weeknight. You’ll have more room on your plate and save calories, so pick something else. Honestly, you’re not missing out if you forgo the green bean dish. As a plant-forward cook, it pains me to see beautiful tender green beans drowning in glop, even if it is grandma’s recipe.

Thanksgiving and Hannukah fall on the same week this year, so many people are getting a double whammy regarding Food FOMO. So, this next step is essential.


Step 2: Prioritize

Prioritizing is in my opinion the essential step.  You can plan all that you want but if you don’t think through what you want to eat, and how you want to feel during and after your meal Food FOMO will overtake you.

Consider how you want to feel during and after your meal.  Do you want to feel energized, celebratory, and light? You want to enjoy the entire holiday, not just the food.  You will be surrounded by family and friends with whom I’m sure you are thankful.  The flip side is lethargic, tired, and heavy. These feelings make you tired, bloated, and probably a little grumpy.  If you want to feel energized then read on!

Prioritize the foods that you put on your plate based on the things you love most.  I encourage you to focus on putting real food on your plate and subsidize with other goodies.  Survey the food being served, especially if you are eating at a buffet.  If there are food items on the table that you would eat on any given Tuesday night you may want to bypass that and opt for unique or special dishes.  You’ll save lots of calories, and enjoy the foods you eat even more.

Step 3: Portions

Take small portions of everything you choose. You can always go back for seconds if you are still hungry after you’ve finished. Besides, you leave some extra food for leftovers. If you do go back for seconds, protein is your best option, even adding a little extra gravy.

Weight gain during the holidays equates to the amount you eat versus what you burn off. Food FOMO is an issue as most of us eat more than usual and work out less than we should. We get busy preparing for the holidays, cooking, baking, and shopping so unless it’s a priority exercise is the first thing that gets scratched from your to-do list.

We are all subject to Food FOMO during the holidays, and the “trick” to managing it is simple. It does take a little thought and planning. Follow these recommendations, and you’ll enjoy the holidays without stress, overwhelm, or Food FOMO.

  • Plan ahead

  • Think before you drink.

  • Take in the atmosphere.

  • Celebrate family and friends.

  • Step back and breathe.

The holidays give you the opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance in your life, to appreciate your good health, to honor the relationships you have with family and friends. To acknowledge the opportunities that have come your way and even to resolve to do better next year. Take it all in and make memories that last a lifetime. That is the real reason we celebrate.


Denise Stegall

Denise Stegall

Meet Denise E. Stegall, the CEO and Curator of Living Healthy List.com. With 25 years of experience and study in nutrition, cooking, exercise, and coaching, she helps female entrepreneurs and businesswomen curate a healthy, happy, and productive life.

As an inspirational thought leader, Denise provides honest, research-backed information on health, wellness, personal development, and fun for real-life application. Her platform, Living Healthy List, is a go-to community for health and wellness resources, empowering positive changes and creating the life you want.

Denise’s background in nutrition and her philosophy of “Eat Real Food, Make Good Decisions, and Be Accountable” shaped her International Best Seller, “Healthy Living, Happy Life: A Practical Path to Finding the Healthy Lifestyle That Works for You!”

She goes beyond her book and Living Healthy List to offer “Forever Wellness Lifestyle ,” a groundbreaking group coaching model with individualized roadmaps for true health, balance, stress management, confidence, and an uplifting lifestyle. Denise E. Stegall is devoted to empowering individuals to embrace holistic well-being and fulfillment.

“Living a healthy lifestyle does not have to be hard! “