Tips to avoid overeating during the holidays

A glass of eggnog. A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. A few pieces of fudge. A couple glasses of champagne. What can it hurt? And besides, it’s Christmas!

It can be tough to stay on track with our eating habits through the holidays, since there are many things that can derail our healthy eating plan. For one thing, this season usually brings with it a number of holiday parties, where we are faced with decadent food and high-calorie beverages.

It also brings more frequent social situations, and most partiers don’t want to look like they are on a diet. Situations like Grandma encouraging seconds of her homemade pie or a coworker bringing in fresh-baked cookies can lead to making less healthy choices. And there are those once-a-year treats we just can’t ignore. Eggnog, pumpkin pie, candied yams, and other seasonal treats are abundant this time of year.

Holiday stress plays a role, too. Add in the fact that it’s been proven that under stress, our food choices shift toward higher-fat, higher-sugar items, and it’s easy to see why we tend to get off track this time of year.

And on top of all that, there’s the increased consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol can definitely be a bigger problem this time of year.  It’s such a standard part of holiday parties, dinners and of course New Year’s Eve festivities.

While up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men is considered moderation, more than that can be detrimental. When drinking goes beyond moderate, it is linked to damage to the liver and to the heart. It also affects inflammation in the body.

Another important thing to remember is that if you do choose to indulge, be sure to have a safe way to get home. Alcohol is implicated in about half of the fatal traffic accidents in the United States.

In addition to packing on the weight over the holidays, significant overeating has actually been found to be a trigger for having a heart attack.

Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach

• Eat healthfully throughout the day, and have healthy snacks if you get hungry so you don’t walk into a party ravenous. That can be a setup to overeat.

• Remember you can have the food later. You can make pumpkin pie in August if you want it. It’s not traditional but you don’t have to overindulge now because of the idea that you can’t have it again until next year.

• Try to keep in mind how much you really need to feel satisfied, if you’re not going to pass on the sugar cookies altogether, have one and really enjoy it, rather than snacking on them all day long.

• If you’re tempted to overeat, consider instead asking for the recipe or a take-home container – knowing you can have it again later can help curb the desire to keep eating past the point of fullness. This same option can help people who feel bad saying no.

• Look into modifying your own recipes. You can often cut down on the sugar, oil and salt without significantly altering the end product.

• If you’re at a buffet or potluck, look around at your options before grabbing a plate, this way you don’t fill up on a mediocre food and then keep eating when you realize what else is there.

• Go for a walk after your holiday meal rather than just jumping right into desserts. This way, you get the family out for a little physical activity and give your brain time to catch up with how full your stomach really is.



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