The holidays, along with the requisite gatherings, can be a diet danger zone. After all, what’s Thanksgiving without the tradition of Grandma’s calorie laden specialties? And that isn’t all. There are the office parties, endless cocktail parties, and your neighbor’s annual extravaganza. Believe it or not, you really can enjoy the holidays without overeating. Here are some tips.
It is hard to pick up a newspaper or listen to a talk show without hearing something about mindfulness. Popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is simply about attention. Being mindful is maintaining awareness moment by moment of your internal and external environment. It is noticing your surroundings, sensations in your body, thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can help you enjoy your food more and eat less because:
- You notice the taste and texture of the food, rather than just wolfing it down, which enhances enjoyment.
- You will give your body time to notice that you are full and stop before you overeat.
- You are more likely to notice when you feel stressed, lonely or bored and can choose to respond to your needs with a self-care strategy rather than a second helping.
Develop a strategy
Getting eating under control doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. You just have to plan ahead. For example, a sensible lunch can leave you some wiggle room for the holiday dinner. Other suggestions:
- Scan all available choices and save your calories for splurge worthy options.
- Give yourself permission to opt out of the clean plate club. Eat only as long as you are still hungry and genuinely enjoying each bite, then stop. According to an American Psychological Association article, Bite, chew, savor, the first few bites taste the best. After that, our taste buds tire and the initial delight is gone. That means you can get just as much enjoyment, and far fewer calories, from a two bite dessert as you can from a super-sized piece of cake.
- Divide your plate into quarters. Use three quarters for foods that support your health and fitness goals and the remaining quarter for treats.
A healthy breakfast with a good mix of protein and fiber will help you avoid overeating later in the day. Suggestions include:
- Top one or two scrambled eggs with salsa and wrap in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Top a whole wheat English muffin with avocado slices and toasted pumpkin seeds.
It is also helpful to choose healthy snacks such as:
- An ounce of cheese and a handful of nuts.
- Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.
- Hummus with chopped veggies
Don’t drink your calories
Calories that come in a cup add up fast, too. Beware of egg-nog and alcoholic beverages that can have as many calories as a double cheeseburger. Alternate libation with club soda and lemon or lime or just plain water. Always carry water with you to avoid dehydration, which can cause you to eat when you aren’t hungry.
Finally, remember that every day is brand new. That means you can pace yourself. Treat yourself throughout the holiday season. You don’t have to do it all on one day. Thursday is not the last day that macaroni and cheese or cookies will be available to you. There is always tomorrow. Likewise, if you overeat today, all is not lost. Just start over with your plan to eat healthy and enjoy high calorie extras in moderation tomorrow (as in the very next day and not January 2).