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6 Ways to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

6 Ways to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

Ah, the holidays…

A time of caroling, eggnog and good old-fashioned mall tramplings…

Mix into that some time with family and work functions and you have a pretty busy time of year—and a time of year where your diet and healthy eating choices get thrown out quicker than a sweater I got from my great aunt.

The holidays are tough because it is a time you want to treat yourself and it’s also a time where people forget what they’re eating. So whether it be a work lunch, a family get-together or any holiday event that involves more food than a cruise ship buffet, here are 6 ways to help avoid overeating.

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1. Don’t go to an event on an empty stomach.

This is probably one of the most important tips for the holidays or any other event. Going into a party or function when you’re starving is setting yourself up for disaster. Your eyes will become bigger than your stomach and you will want to eat everything in sight. Also, when hungry, we tend to crave things like sugar and refined carbohydrates, which are public enemy number 1 in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

Eating a quality meal that includes some healthy fats and protein prior to an event will help keep you fuller, longer and less likely to jump on the first plate of crab cakes you see.

This tip also works for grocery shopping. Don’t shop on an empty stomach as you will tend to pick the items that look immediately satisfying or that you are craving which again tend to be those refined carbs and sugar.

2. Change your mindset to “I can have it but I don’t want it”.

This can actually be beneficial when you really have a tough time avoiding culinary temptations. Too much of the time we beat ourselves up saying we can’t have something. Switching that mindset of “I can’t have it” to “I can have it but I don’t want it” can actually cause some powerful changes in how you view what you can and cannot have.

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The connection between the mind and food has actually been looked at through studies from Yale that look at how psychological factors can even influence the biological impact of food. Your mind, like your karaoke skills, is a powerful thing.

3. Drink water.

Sometimes hunger signals are actually mistaken for dehydration. Drinking water throughout the day will help to alleviate this potential signal cross. Also having a glass or two of water before you hit the snack table will be a nice little way to help avoid eating an entire figgy pudding..

4. Eat slowly.

The feeling of fullness can take around 20 minutes before the brain recognizes the signals. Eating too quickly overrides these signals causing you to eat more than your body would naturally prefer. We tend to lived in a rushed world and we don’t give those satiation signals a chance to work so slowing down your eating will help you avoid eating more than you actually need.

The best way to do this is keep an eye on the clock and focus on chewing your food quite thoroughly. We tend to stuff food in our mouths, give a few quick chews, and then get ‘er down the hatch. People who chew longer ultimately take longer to eat and report feeling fuller. You will also eat around 10% fewer calories eating slower as opposed to rushing. This slower eating will also help digestion and avoid feelings of cramping and discomfort.

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5. Focus on protein.

If it’s impossible to avoid all the baked good and desserts on offer, at least try to consume protein before you dive into them. Eating protein prior to the ingestion of sugars is going to help minimize blood sugar spikes. Protein is also helpful in making you feel full. The foods that best promote satiety contain protein, water, fiber and healthy fats.

Protein also increases metabolism as it requires calories in the digestion and absorption of it in a process called thermogenesis

Protein sources in the form of nuts are usually plentiful during the holidays and will help you from overeating any refined sugar and high glycemic choices. Starting the night off with sources of protein like that will help in the overeating long haul. If only they could help with that hideous tie you chose…

6. No need to be too hard on yourself for holidays.

I can go on about keeping blood sugar levels under control and making sure leptin resistance isn’t occurring, etc, etc, but we are human and it is the holidays.

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As a fitness professional, I’m not going to pretend I don’t indulge from time to time. We have these events and foods in our lives that should be recognized as celebrations and enjoyment. Don’t beat yourself up because you had a little extra candy cane ice cream. Just make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get out of hand and ultimately create discomfort. If you have been keeping on top of your fitness and nutrition, you’re winning in the long run.

Don’t consider the holidays a “slip up” and remember: it’s not going to undo all the good work you’ve been doing. When it comes to your diet just remember, progress not perfection.

Now please pass the figgy pudding. Whatever that is…

Featured photo credit: David Goehring via flic.kr

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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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