It’s that time of year again. Families are making plans to get together for their holiday meals and parties. I’ve already got four meals and one party planned, and those are just for this month. Since I don’t want to hate myself by the time the New Year gets here I’ve got some tips for eating during the holiday season.
The most important thing to remember is not to focus on weight loss. You should instead focus on maintaining your current weight. If you are on a diet to lose weight, let go for a little bit and just focus on trying not to gain more.
If you eat a small snack before you go to a meal or party, you are less likely to grab everything and overfill your plate when it’s time you get food. It’s just like eating a snack before you go grocery shopping. Also, avoid skipping meals for the same reason. It won’t make any more room in your stomach. It will just make you more hungry when you get to the food and more likely to overeat.
Stay hydrated. Many times when people think they are hungry, it’s really that they are thirsty. Before you grab a huge serving of food, drink a glass of water. It will also help with proper digestion of the food.
When it’s time to eat, use the smallest plate available, if possible. Don’t be rude and have the host dig through their cupboards to find a special plate just for you. But if there are two sizes set out grab the smaller one.
Before you take any food, look at all of your options. That way you can get a better idea of how much to take of each thing. Then you won’t fill your plate and end up with a mountain of food because you saw something else you wanted.
Take smaller bites. Most of us enjoy food for the taste of it more than for the feeling of a full stomach. If you take smaller bites you can enjoy the flavor more while eating less food.
Don’t get full on turkey, mashed potatoes (or rice if your family does that), and stuffing. Make sure you have fruits and veggies. They contain useful vitamins and minerals, and as long as you don’t just drown everything in gravy they will add variety to the flavors you get to enjoy.
Don’t stand by the food table at parties. It makes it too easy to grab food while you are talking. I usually go to a different room from where the food is. Then I’m not only away from the food, but I usually get pulled into a conversation and it’s difficult for me to get away to grab more food.
Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. This goes back to eating before you arrive, especially if it’s a party that you know will start with drinking.
Try to stay social. This burns me out by the end of the night, which is usually about an hour or so before I need to leave, but it works. The more you talk, the less time you have to eat. And if you are in a different room than the food it gives you fewer opportunities to grab food.
After you finish your first plate of food take a 10 minute break before getting seconds. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register that it is full. If you have been eating small bites and socializing, you should know after about 10 minutes whether there is actually room for more food.
Once you are actually done with dinner, don’t just go collapse on the couch. You’ll want to stay active to get your metabolism working on everything you just put into your stomach.
Ask someone or a couple people if they want to go for a walk before dessert. It will get you and them moving and will give you a chance to catch up if you walk with someone you haven’t seen for a while. Plus the fresh air will be good for you.
I don’t know how it happens but life always works out just right so there are always kids at family gatherings. At least that’s how it always is with my family. Take some time to play with them after dinner. You can form or reinforce a lasting bond with them while working off some of your dinner. And since kids have infinite energy you will get a great workout.
Just remember not to beat yourself up if you do end up eating too much. The important part of the holidays is spending time with your friends and family. It’s okay if you overindulge once in a while. Everything should be taken in moderation, including moderation.