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!
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.
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!
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