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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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