Do you need a way to control your holiday indulgences? How about
6 Ways to Reduce Holiday Overeating
Is this the scenario of your post-holiday feasts? Bodies strewn all over the living room furniture. Belts loosened. Groans of regret fill the air. “I’ll never eat that much again!”
Fifteen minutes later the hostess enters the room and announces dessert is ready. Groaning ceases. Bodies haul themselves into upright positions. Glazed eyes become focused. “I suppose I could manage just a little bit of something-something.” The living room empties and the dining room overflows.
How can this be?
Human beings are hardwired to shut off hunger with the foods we would’ve accessed at a more primitive time, like meat and veggies. You eat those until your brain provides feedback that you are done, and your desire to eat disappears. You are inherently a reasonable eater.
But we don’t have shut-offs for foods that were less accessible, like sweets. That feeling of being full and sated doesn’t occur when you sit down with a full can of chocolate frosting, and then end up wondering how you could’ve finished it off that fast. Instead of feeling full, we get up and search for more sweets.
We also don’t have a shut off for processed foods, like bread. Or Doritos. Fresh, hot, crunchy bread before dinner? Sure, it won’t fill me up. Well, actually it does, but your brain isn’t telling you that.
I’m only five feet tall, but I can eat a pizza all by myself, thanks to a brain that makes it all seem possible. Here’s the reality. If I vertically stack up the slices, the pile is bigger than the size of my stomach. C’mon, I’m not built for an entire pizza, but my brain realizes it too late.
That’s why we eat ourselves into oblivion at the long-awaited holiday dinner. Our brain doesn’t recognize bread, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, etc. Too late, the brain realizes we should have stopped eating before we got second helpings. We retire to a room away from the food, and vow to not let this happen again next year. But with the announcement that dessert is laid out for all to see, the brain’s shut-off is shut off, and we go for it.
Here’s a half dozen hints how to minimize eating damage during the holidays:
- Don’t visit with an empty stomach, or your cravings will start with the first whiff of the holiday meal. Have a big salad before you arrive. Your cravings will be less, and your brain will tell you you’re full.
- Sit and chat away from the pre-dinner snacks. If you can reach it, you will.
- Make sure you put lots of meat and green veggies on your dish. That will help your brain regulator kick in faster.
- Don’t have any sweet drinks. Stick to water. It will provide volume without the sugar spike. And no fake-sweet drinks. Artificial sweeteners make things worse by confusing your poor holiday-tortured brain.
- Take small portions of the sweets and carbs, with the intention of going back for more. By the time you are ready for seconds, your cravings will diminish, you will feel full, and you will begin thinking about leaving room for dessert.
- Take a small sample of the desserts, again with the intention of going back for more. You won’t feel like you’re punishing yourself, and you’ll have a better chance of your brain realizing how much you’re eating. (Plus, there’s the added possibility that the desserts will be gone by the time you head back in.)
Now go forth and enjoy! But, before you do, share with everyone any tricks you have to prevent overeating.