I can’t believe the holiday season is just around the corner. Before we know it, we’ll be dusting off the decoration boxes, preparing our shopping lists, wrapping gifts and spending time with family, friends and loved ones.
The stretch from Halloween to New Year’s is a difficult one. It offers a lot of temptations when it comes to eating and drinking. Even the most disciplined individuals can struggle to stay on track. There seems to be a stigma that it’s “ok” to overeat and overindulge throughout the holidays. Remember healthy eating isn’t necessarily about avoidance, it’s ok to enjoy your favorite dish, snack or dessert but moderation is the name of the game. And be mindful! This busy time of year can also lead to a significant decrease in our physical activity levels. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some tips on how to have a healthy holiday season.
Tips For Healthy Eating
- Know your numbers! In order to maintain a healthy weight you need a balance between the amount of calories you consume and the amount of energy/calories you burn off.
- When you arrive at a holiday party, check out all the options for food and make a plan on what you are going to enjoy.
- Eat mindfully. Use all your senses and be in the moment. Pay attention to the food you’re eating. Minimizing distractions allows us to notice our body’s cues like satiety, and may help to reduce overeating.
- Try wearing tighter fitting clothes to keep you more mindful of how your stomach is feeling.
- Don’t skip meals. Individuals who skip meals to save calories for a larger dinner are more likely to overeat.
- Offer to bring a healthy dish to the holiday party or dinner.
- Cut back on unnecessary calories such as gravy, butter, cheese, sauces, whip cream and other toppings.
- Alcoholic beverages like wine, eggnog and beer are full of calories. Reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you drink by switching between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.
- Bring your own plate. This may sound strange but there are many dishes on the market right now that can help you control your portion size and prevent overeating.
- Try eating off a different color plate then your food. Research has shown that the high contrast between food and the color of the plate used causes individuals to put less food on their plates.
Health Consequences Of Overeating
- Simple sugars found in sodas, candies, cookies and other processed treats can do harm to our body. An example of this is the link between sugar and the immune system. The immunosuppressant effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.
- Even short term overeating can have lasting effects. Research has shown that short term overeating (such as a 4-week period) coupled with a decrease in physical activity can lead to an increase in body weight as well as fat mass that lasts long after the short binge.
- Long term overeating can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic effects.
- Short term effects of overeating may include nausea, feeling winded, bloated or gassy, drowsiness or heaviness in your stomach. Lastly, because overeating pushes blood toward the digestive tract, your heart may have to work harder.
What To Do If Your Plans Fail
We all know exercise is important to maintaining health, but did you know that it may also help after you have overeaten. One research article found that 15 minutes of walking about a half hour after a meal may help to control blood sugar levels. To really see the benefits of walking, one must do this after every meal. Another study found that a brisk walk for 30 minutes right after a meal was more effective for weight loss than waiting one hour after eating. Make sure you’re comfortable and aren’t experiencing any discomfort from overeating before you go out for a walk.
So you read this “How To” and had a whole plan on how to prevent overeating. You scoped out the party, ate foods in the right proportion and tried to eat mindfully, but something with your plan went awry and now you have overeaten. Well that’s ok, in fact I wouldn’t worry. No, really, don’t worry. Researchers out of Canterbury have found that individuals that feel guilty after overeating are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t feel guilty. So for one night, if you eat a little more then you intended, don’t fret! Every day is a fresh start!