The Real Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Eating Holiday Candy

Why is it so hard to stop eating holiday treats? A registered dietitian explains why, and offers up her best tricks to stay in control this holiday season.

Why is it so hard to stop eating holiday candy? Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween or otherwise, so many factors can keep you from controlling yourself around the candy bowl or cookie tray. Let’s look into some of these potential causes and how you can stay in check this holiday season.

The Culprits of Over-Indulgence

The largest factor in why it’s difficult for you to control yourself around holiday candy: availability. Even the strongest willpower can’t always win over a candy bowl that’s constantly on the counter. Studies have shown that those who’d trained to practice self-control were no more successful in resisting their urges than those who hadn’t.

Excessive sugar intake may also trigger reward pathways in your brain leading to compulsive overeating. This, in combination with high availability, makes it difficult to say no when the candy is just sitting there, right in front of you.

How to Avoid Overeating Sweets

So how can you best traverse the tricky landscape of the holiday candy bowl and desserts? Here are some ideas to try:

Get It out of Your Sight

The easiest and likely most successful way to evade holiday candy is to remove it from where you normally spend time throughout the day. This will remove all temptation, so you’ll find a healthier alternative or won’t eat if you weren’t hungry in the first place.

Replace It

If removing the sweets isn’t an option, the next best option is to replace the candy and traditional holiday desserts with some healthier options. These surprise meringues, eggnog mousse, and energy ball recipes are all great options.

Eat Mindfully

The holiday season is a great time to work on intuitive or mindful eating. Intuitive eating calls for a strong connection with your body’s hunger and satiety cues. Those who have this practice down to a science are able to say no to any type of food, healthy or not, if they truly are not hungry or have already had enough to eat. One of our staffers tried this mindful eating approach—see how he did.

Partner Up

If someone in your life shares your candy-avoidance goals, team up to help each other stay accountable. You’ll both be more likely to come out successful on the other side of the holiday season.

Balance Your Eating

By making sure to eat healthful, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, as well as staying hydrated, you’ll have the best chance against that looming candy bowl.

The holiday season can be tricky when it comes to successfully avoiding the abundance of sweets around every corner. By understanding why it’s so hard to evade the candy jar, you can work on ways to either get rid of the temptation or try to overcome it.

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Christina Manian, RDN
Christina Manian is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she has been involved with the nutrition departments of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital. She completed her nutrition education at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on medical nutrition therapy and most recently practiced clinical nutrition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. While her background has largely been in the clinical setting, Christina embraces and is shifting her focus towards wellness nutrition as the backbone to optimum health.