Is it me or does it seem like the time period between Halloween and New Years just becomes a weird cycle of food marathon after food marathon?
Whether you’re actively celebrating a holiday or not, we seem to get sucked into year-end office parties, family gatherings, and/or simply getting reacquainted with friends over dinner as the season of ‘togetherness’ translates to a constant battle of ‘lettin’ loose and enjoying ourselves’ versus our ever-growing waist-lines.
The question then becomes: are these Holiday Feasts or ‘Holiday Feats’ – in that we’re surviving these vast quantities of (usually unhealthy) food? Or is it a ‘Holiday Feat’ in and of itself when we ‘successfully’ resist the urge to eat our weight in chocolates/treats/celebratory meals?
Are we setting ourselves up for failure by engaging in that tug-of-war game – where we overindulge during the holidays and then try to lose all of our excess weight come January Resolutions? And then attempting to do this over and over and over again with each passing year?
As a nutritionist who’s been there, let me tell ya: for many of us, this is a recipe for unachievable, unrealistic high hopes and soul-crushing letdowns year after year after year. And of course – of course – metabolism slows as we age, so with every year, this literally gets harder and harder to do.
So, what do we do? Knowing full well that these next couple of weeks is going to be an onslaught of all-you-can-eat indulgences and the months to follow (urm, more realistically speaking – days/weeks to follow) will be nothing but steamed kale and vigorous exercise. Knowing full well that one tiny setback on our kale-and-exercise-train will have us returning to the overeating habits of the holidays so that we’re overeating all…the…time. What do we do?
Break. The. Cycle. Take steps — tiny baby steps – to start to form new habits.
And I know what you’re thinking: Easier. Said. Than. Done.
Yep. You’re right. Making change is not easy. But it can be simple if you break it down into small, consistent bite-sized pieces. Keep reading on for my best tips on how to avoid overeating during the holidays and beyond.
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.
But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
And BTW – we pretty well all need to work at getting properly hydrated every day, so consider making this a daily ritual and you’ll solve a few health conundrums.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.
Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly, you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish. Mmmmmm…….
Just don’t start there. And don’t reach for the bread basket first off either.
(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals, but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fibre and water.
Fibre and water (like we said above) are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating”.
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.
Tip #4: Reach out!
If you’ve overindulged on the holidays or maybe you’ve just been overeating and feeling out of control for some time, then what you need is support – and a strategy to break out of the old patterns and build yourself some resilience to overcome the tendency to turn to food as the answer for everything, all the time.
Good news: the Better Body Method© is back and there are now more ways for you to access and benefit from this awesome learning and practicing program I created specially for women aged 40+ to find a new path to wellness.
This is not your average run-of-the-mill diet program – far from it! In fact, I don’t believe in dieting because that’s not the road to better health. Instead, the BBM© tackles your health from the inside out, meaning we address hormonal issues, stress, sleep, blood sugar imbalances, inflammation and limiting beliefs that allow us to self-sabotage. Oh, we talk food too. And reacquaint ourselves with how the power of real food can nourish us and eliminate cravings and overeating.
But the real beauty of this program is that it will prove to you that you are not alone and that overeating is not something to be ashamed of. It is just a habit and this habit can be changed.
This approach works and it rocks. And whether it works best for you to participate remotely through the magic of the internet, via telephone consultations or by sitting in my pretty little office in Kingston, Ontario – know this for sure: if you reach out – the help is there for you. And you can make the changes you desire.
For more information about the Better Body Method© or to check out other ways I can help, reach out and let’s talk.
If you’re one of my locals who lives in Kingston, ON, you can book at my clinic at Kingston Integrated Healthcare.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals. If you need more support, reach out!
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses, here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
- Slices of lemon & ginger
- Slices of strawberries & orange
- Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
- Chopped pineapple & mango
- Blueberries, raspberries & some mint leaves
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.