October 25, 2021

10 tips to avoid overindulging in holiday meals

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By: Mary Daly From Care2

1. MAKE A HEALTHY GROCERY LIST

If you’re planning a holiday party — or just going about your general grocery shopping — don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure you include enough healthy items on your grocery list to offset the more indulgent foods. “Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to it to avoid impulse buying when you’re shopping,”Harvard Medical School recommends. You don’t have to deprive yourself of holiday treats completely. But if you have healthy items around, you’ll be less likely to overindulge in the junk food.

2. DON’T AVOID EATING IN PREPARATION FOR THE MAIN MEAL

Four plates with cutlery and autumnal vegetables on wooden table

Maybe you’ve been counting down the days to your main holiday meal, where you can enjoy all your favorite festive foods. But to avoid overindulging, you should never come to the table ravenously hungry. Don’t skip meals prior to the main event just to have more room in your stomach. You’ll end up eating way more than your body actually needs — and you probably won’t enjoy the ensuing stomachache. Instead, Cleveland Clinicsuggests eating a serving of fruit (or veggies), yogurt or nuts prior to your holiday party. That will take the edge off your hunger, so you can make smarter choices.

3. START SMALL

It’s easy to take what you think is a serving of all the delicious foods on the table, only to realize your plate is filled to the brim. So when doling out your portions, it’s important to start small. “It may be helpful to limit the size of your plate to nine inches or less,” Harvard Medical School says. You can always go back for seconds after you’ve checked in with your hunger level.

4. EAT SLOWLY

It’s also helpful to eat your portions slowly. Take small bites, and chew thoroughly — appreciating the smells, tastes, colors and textures of the food. Harvard Medical School recommends chewing each bite 30 times, though that’s more to slow you down than an exact count to follow. “This may also help prevent overeating by giving your gut time to send messages to the brain to say you’re full,” according to the medical school.

5. TAKE BREAKS

Another way to make your healthy portions last longer is to pause between bites. Put down your utensils to avoid bolting down your food, as much as you might want to. Instead, take a break to chat with your dining companions or fetch something that’s needed at the table. And if you’re not at a sit-down meal, aim to work the room. “Conversation is calorie-free, and standing burns more calories than sitting,” Cleveland Clinic says. “So get out and mingle — and offer to help clean up.”

6. PICK ONE INDULGENCE

a slice of pumpkin pie

Throughout the holidays, you’ll probably be surrounded by plenty of fatty and sugary foods. And to stay on a healthy path you definitely shouldn’t gorge on them all. But that’s not to say you should totally deprive yourself. Pick the one indulgent food you want the most, and treat yourself to a serving. This should alleviate any feelings of deprivation that might trigger you to overindulge. But know when to stop. “Realize that you may want seconds, so plan ahead with a positive distracting activity,” Mayo Clinic recommends.

7. KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO

There are times at holiday meals when you know you shouldn’t eat any more, but you still do. So it’s important to learn how to say no. If someone keeps offering you more helpings or “just a taste” that you don’t really want, politely decline. Or maybe you feel like you have to finish everything on your plate, even if you’re full. But, according to Harvard Medical School, “It’s okay to cancel your membership to the Clean Plate Club.” Those last few bites really aren’t worth harming your health.

8. BRING A HEALTHY OPTION TO HOLIDAY PARTIES

If you’re attending a holiday party, make sure there’s at least one healthy dining option there by bringing it yourself. You can’t go wrong with a fiber-rich vegetable dish that will fill you up, even if none of the other party foods appeal to you. And remember not to drink all your calories either — a common health trap at parties.

9. REDUCE TEMPTATIONS

If you host a holiday meal, you might be saddled with lots of indulgent leftovers. So to avoid eating it all yourself, give away your excess food. Send some with your guests, bring it to work or do whatever you can not to be stuck with too many holiday treats. Likewise, if you want to reduce temptations at your holiday meal, avoid leaving serving dishes on the table. Sure, they paint a pretty picture, but it’s too easy to reach for seconds that your body doesn’t really need. And you never know. One (or more) of your guests might appreciate having the temptations out of the way, as well.

10. KNOW YOUR VICES

Friends talk over coffee.

Maybe you can’t stop eating a specific food once you start. Or you lose track of how much you’ve eaten when you’re socializing. It’s key to know your vices, so you can keep your diet on track. “If you can identify someone who is supportive, use that person to help you stay on track at a social event,” Mayo Clinic suggests. And do yourself some favors by drinking lots of water and snacking on healthy foods to quell your urge to overindulge in the unhealthy ones. That way, you can enjoy your holiday meals with no regrets.

Main image credit: Foxys_forest_manufacture/Getty Images

For more on this story go to: https://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-tips-to-avoid-overindulging-in-holiday-meals.html

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