8 Tips to Avoid Overeating At Holiday Meals
By Brian Acton
The holidays are frequently a time of excess, especially when it comes to meals with friends and family. When there’s an abundance of lovingly prepared food available, it’s easy to overeat.
But overeating can be very unhealthy, and also lead to guilt if you’re particularly conscious of your diet. Luckily, there are ways to partake without pigging out. Here are eight tips to avoid overeating at holiday meals.
- Don’t Skip Breakfast
One popular strategy is to skip breakfast or lunch when you’re eating a big meal later, forgoing some calories. But this can backfire in several ways. First, you’re essentially giving yourself permission to overeat ahead of time. Second, by the time you do eat you’ll feel famished and wind up eating too much. And third, if your blood sugar drops too low, you’ll end up craving sugar (hello, pumpkin pie!).
- Don’t Fill Up on Appetizers
Many holiday parties feature appetizers to tide you over until the main event. But snacks are addictive, and it’s hard to stop diving in once you start. Even if you fill up on appetizers, you’re still likely to eat a main course and dessert, which can lead to overeating and regret. So try to avoid, or limit, the snacks you eat before the main course.
- Balance Your Sides
You should balance your side dishes, choosing both healthy and indulgent options. Instead of loading up on potatoes and getting a smidge of salad, try to stick to equal portions. Healthy side dishes, such as fruits and vegetables, provide balance to everything else on your plate.
- Eat Slowly
Whenever you eat a rich, decadent holiday meal, you should give your brain time to catch up to your stomach. It can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to send the signal that you’re full. That’s enough time to finish your plate and go back for seconds, and before you know it you’ll feel bloated and overstuffed. Make sure to pace yourself as you eat, savoring the food as you go. This will give your brain enough time to tell you when you’ve had enough.
- Drink Water
Water can help with digestion and nutrient absorption. It can also help you avoid overeating. When you take breaks between bites to hydrate yourself, you will eat slower and fill up faster.
- Pick One Dessert
Sure, all those desserts look tempting, but you don’t need to sample every single one. Pick the dessert that looks most tantalizing, and get yourself one serving.
- Go Easy on the Liquid Calories
Sodas, beer, wine, and cocktails are packed with calories and/or sugar. It’s a party, so feel free to partake in a beverage, but don’t overdo it.
- Get Some Exercise
Even if you do overindulge yourself, exercise can help you undo some of the damage. Find time to fit exercise in before or after your holiday meal. You’ll burn off some calories and reduce any guilt you feel after overeating. You might want to check for any local community events, such as Thanksgiving Turkey Trots, that will help you burn off your meal with friends and neighbors.