It's the Holiday Season. And with it brings cold weather! So it’s natural to crave heavier and warming foods this time of year. Combine those cravings with letting loose at parties and family gatherings and you’ve got yourself a recipe for...yes, overeating.
But don't fear! I've got you covered. You don’t have to rely on will power alone. All you need is a little bit of savvy planning.
These five tips will not only help you prevent overeating during the holidays, they’ll also make balanced eating feel effortless and satisfying.
Tip #1: Eat a protein snack before the big meal or party. Have you ever avoided eating for the entire day leading up to a big holiday dinner or party? If your answer is yes, then chances are you were cranky most of the day, ate way too much once you got there, and then felt terrible afterwards.
Hunger and deprivation followed by overeating or bingeing is extremely taxing on both your digestive and hormonal systems, and can lead to exhaustion, moodiness, bloating, headaches, constipation, and weight gain. Not fun. Next time, avoid “saving” calories and eat some protein before heading to the party. It will give you lasting energy so you’re not starving setting yourself up for choosing anything and everything. Think: a handful of nuts, pumpkin seeds, nut butter with celery or carrots, a cooked egg, or a quick smoothie with almond butter, peanut butter, or coconut oil.
Tip #2: Stick to low-glycemic foods. When you consume foods that are high in sugars (high glycemic), your body has to produce insulin to balance the levels in the blood, and store any excess sugar as fat. To add insult to injury, after an initial spike in blood sugar, your body will inevitably crash shortly after, leading to...that’s right...more cravings. "Keebler" Elf is right, "You can't eat just one." On the other hand, low glycemic foods will give you lasting, steady energy to help stave off hunger and prevent the yo-yo effect of blood sugar spikes. Think: vegetables with homemade dips, nuts and seeds, nut butters, eggs, organic meats, most berries, avocado (yes healthy guac with veggies works!), quinoa.
High glycemic foods to avoid: white flour pastas and breads, sweetened cereal, soft drinks, cookies or pastry, too much sweet fruit or dried fruit, packaged granola with added sugar or basically anything high in sugar.
Tip #3: Hydrate. Did you know that thirst can sometimes be disguised as hunger and lead us to continue eating past the point of being full in an effort to satisfy our body’s need for water? Simply staying hydrated can go a long way in preventing over consumption of food, not to mention generally keeping you energized, clear-headed, and feeling your best. You don't have to stick with just water. Fresh pressed juices, smoothies, fruit infused waters, and herbal teas all count towards your water intake.
Invest in a really beautiful or cool cup or bottle. I take my 20 ounce cup with me everywhere I go and keep it filled. I know I want to get six of those in me by the end of the day. It saves time from recalculating and recalculating my water intake.
Tip #4: Practice mindfulness. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that you’re full, so you might find yourself much more likely to reach for seconds if you eat too fast.
Be more mindful around food by appreciating every ingredient, the aroma and textures, truly tasting every flavor, and...chew well! This last one might sound silly, but the reality is that most people don’t chew their food enough to actually digest it. You don’t need to count your bites to reach any specific number but a good rule of thumb is not to swallow your food until you can no longer discern exactly what you just ate by the texture remaining in your mouth. I always say “ Chew your liquids, and drink your foods.” (Digestion starts in the mouth so make sure you are swishing that fresh pressed juice or smoothie around for a second or two to start the process). Not only will this help prevent overeating, but it’s also good for your digestion. Your body wastes less energy breaking down food. Watch your digestion improve by the simple act of chewing well!
Tip #5: Pack!
And finally, if you can, plan to bring a healthy dish to the gathering. In case it's slim pickings, you'll have a back up plan!