How to Avoid Overeating and Drinking During Holiday Season

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Holidays are associated with overeating and excess drinking which can lead to heart stress and weight gain. Here are simple tips to avoid these problems.

Parties, family gatherings and holidays are times to indulge in good food and drink. Unfortunately, all that good food and drink can put extra stress on your heart and lead to weight gain. As you get older, the weight you put on during the holiday season is much harder to take off.

So follow some simple healthy tips to keep eating and drinking under control and still enjoy the holiday season.

Prepare a Food Plan Before Going to Holiday Parties

If you don’t plan to succeed, then you’re planning for failure. Think about what happened at last year’s events – which behaviors worked for you, which didn’t. Continue with the ones that worked and substitute new behaviors for the ones that didn’t. And if you do slip up, forgive yourself and do better the next day.

  • Eat something light before you go to a party so you’re not over-hungry once you get there. People tend to make poor food choices when they’re too hungry, eating too much and too quickly.
  • Turn down invitations if you don’t really want to go to another party or dinner and can refuse gracefully.
  • Practice polite ways of saying “no” to offers of food. Remember, you don’t have to explain why you don’t want to eat more. A simple “I’m full, thank you” is enough.
  • Keep a food diary. Just the thought of having to write down everything that you’ve eaten helps you eat a bit less.

Diet Strategy Tips For Family Gatherings or Parties over the Holiday Season

There are many tried and true behaviour diet tips that can help you get through the holiday and Christmas season without putting on the pounds. Try some of the tips below.

  • If you know you’re going to see some of your favorite treats, allow yourself one of them, but not all.
  • If you’re in a restaurant or are hosting, start the meal with a clear soup. That will help fill you up without adding a lot of calories and give your brain some extra time to get signals from your stomach that it’s full. Just stay away from cream soups.
  • Use a small plate, if possible. A smaller amount of food on a small plate will trick your eyes, brain and stomach into thinking you’re eating more.
  • Make sure half of the food on your plate is vegetables, but not ones that are covered in rich sauces.
  • If you use a big plate, only put food in the center of the plate. Keep the rim areas empty.
  • If you’re the host, don’t make too much food or you’ll be overeating leftovers for days.
  • If you’re a guest, politely pass on any take-home platters if they include calorie rich foods. Or, if you can’t say no, follow Kathleen Zelman’s advice in her WebMD article “Family Holidays: A Dieter’s Survival Guide” and “drop them off at a shelter, give them to a friend, or bring them to work. Keep them out of your house so you won’t be compelled to finish them off.”
  • Don’t sit near the buffet or appetizer table as you’ll be tempted to make extra trips.
  • And, according to Linda Lelas et al, authors of Simple Steps for Every Holiday, slip a bottle of peppermint essential oil in your purse of pocket. When you get hungry, take three whiffs of the peppermint flavored oil and you may find yourself eating less as the satiety center of the brain gets activated.

For cooks looking for lots of good ideas for shaving calories off traditional holiday meals, check out Kathleen M. Zelman’s “Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips” at WebMD.

Beware of Booze: Alcoholic Drinks Can Add Hundreds of Empty Calories

When you’re celebrating with friends and family, it’s easy to have a couple of extra drinks. However, our bodies don’t recognize calories from liquids. So, they don’t fill us up, even when they’re loaded with calories.

  • A 6-ounce beer or 4-ounce glass of wine contains about 100 calories, mixed drinks about 200 calories and that cup of eggnog weighs in at 400 calories. A couple of glasses and you can really pack on the calories and still feel hungry.
  • Another reason not to drink alcoholic drinks, as Lelas reminds us, is that they weaken your resolve, particularly for salty or fatty foods. You may find yourself nibbling on extra appetizers, asking for that second helping or a third piece of pie.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones. Plain or sparking water gives you something to hold in your hand while others are drinking, but won’t add any more calories.

The holiday season is meant to be enjoyed. So eat, drink and be merry – just do it in moderation by following simple tips to control overeating and excess drinking.

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