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Four Ways to Avoid Holiday Overeating

Four Ways to Avoid Holiday Overeating

holiday overeating

    The season is upon us: vodka-fueled work parties and pretending you love your coworkers. The stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years is a virtual onslaught of calories and if not managed well can put a roadblock in front of all the great work you’ve done with your health. So dust off your ugly Christmas sweater and grab a ‘nog-based beverage as I show you four ways to help avoid holiday overeating!

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    1. To avoid holiday overeating, slow down when you eat!

    This applies all year round since the faster you eat, the more you will consume before feeling full. When you eat too fast you override the signals from your stomach to your brain that indicate that it is full and has had enough gingerbread for one sitting. The average person eats meals in three to five minutes (sometimes in less time) and this throws the body out of whack. Ideally, you want to take fifteen to twenty minutes to eat to let those signals work naturally. If you’re at a party, be conscious of the time you spend eating because eating too quickly causes you to over-consume as you’ve essentially short-circuited the fullness-signal mechanism. If you’re at a dinner or restaurant, try to be the last one to finish your meal.

    2. Don’t go to events hungry.

    This goes hand-in-hand with point one because when you walk into an event already starving you tend to go into “abominable snowman mode” and decimate whatever helpless food platter stands in your way. Those poor coconut shrimp didn’t even see what hit them! This is similar to why you shouldn’t grocery shop on an empty stomach since you tend to buy what you want now as opposed to later and at parties that have an abundance of undesirable treats this can be a disaster. Make sure to have a good meal beforehand that contains protein, fiber, and healthy fat to help keep you fuller for longer and you’ll avoid eating your weight in Toblerone.

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    3. Start with protein and veggies before hitting the treats.

    If you get to a holiday event and haven’t been able to eat beforehand, do yourself a favor and focus on those foods that promote fullness such as protein and fiber. This way you can tame that hunger beast a bit before it goes wild on a yule log (the cake- not the block of wood for the fire). The other advantage of going for protein and veggies is that it helps stabilize your blood sugar before you descend on the treats. If you go straight for sugar-based choices you can say hello to your good friend the blood sugar spike which will result in the inevitable crash, the craving for more sugar, and the whole vicious cycle kicks in, like the constant regifting of a label-maker. Most every party or function will have some sort of veggie and cheese platter and deli meats, so go for those before you dive headfirst into the chocolate fondue fountain.

    4. Make sure to drink enough water.

    Along with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, water is another thing that helps satiate you. The signal of dehydration can often be  confused with that of hunger, and food can be turned to when a glass or two of water would have done the trick. Go for a glass or two of water before any food comes out and it might not only help with you overeating but help keep you hydrated at the same time. You’re going to need it after the candy cane jello shots!

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    Wrapping it up

    It can be tough to avoid holiday overeating, and one big point I want to, um, point out is that the holidays need to be a time to enjoy yourself and not feel totally deprived. We only live once so we need to enjoy moments with friends and family. Don’t beat yourself up for indulging. It’s important to indulge but not over-indulge. If you’ve been working hard on your health, you don’t want to go off the rails and throw a huge wrench into all the good work you’ve been doing. If your health has been a priority to you the last year, try to make the best choices possible this time of year so that you can keep on rolling with it and not have to be rolled out the door!

    Featured photo credit: OakleyOriginals via flickr.com

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    Jamie Logie

    Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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