Holiday Eating Tips

Guest writer here today!  This is Brianna, aka Tony’s wife.

I’m helping out with some tips for getting through the food gauntlet that is the Holidays.  This post may be a bit long since I’m giving you all seven tips at once!  Most can be used any time but with food being such a focal point this time of year it helps to be reminded of some basic strategies to help curb the tendency to overdose on all the awesome food coming your way.

#1 – Eat slowly

How would you eat a stink bug? Slow? Fast? Chew it 20 times? Swallow after two chews?

I’ll bet you would chew it just barely enough to get it down your throat and you for sure would not want it to sit on your tongue all day. Eating quickly is the way to eat something gross.

The other day I had this yummy noodle dish and I wanted to eat more just because it tasted so good!  Since I was full I stopped but tI still wanted to eat more.  Sometimes we overeat to taste more of a good flavor or feel the texture of the food.

If you are eating a tasty meal, s l o w   d o w n. Let the food stay in your mouth, taste the flavors, take time in between bites.  Don’t rush through the meal. Engage in entertaining conversation while you eat.

Eating slowly also lets you know when you are full before you’re stuffed. You feel full after the stretching of your stomach sends signals directly to your brain. Other signals come from hormones triggered by nutrients entering your blood stream. These chemical signals take longer to kick in. If you eat super fast, you don’t get the message that you’re full or have eaten enough until you’ve already overeaten.

“Eat fast to overeat, eat slow to eat just enough.”

 

If you watch a food eating challenge, like eating a three course meal in under 45 minutes, you may notice that most of the progress occurs within the first 15 minutes while the challenger eats incredibly fast.  If they take longer than 20-30 minutes, their brain realizes its time to stop and their progress slows dramatically as the body screams for an end.

Bottom Line:

Eat fast if you don’t want to taste your food and you want to overeat. Eat slow if you want to taste your food and eat just enough.

 

#2 – Chew your food

This goes along with tip #1, eating slowly. If you chew your food more times, you will eat slower. The action of chewing and the sensation of food on your tongue stimulates saliva production. Food suspended in saliva allows your taste buds to better detect flavors. If you’ve ever experienced dry mouth and tried eating, I’ll bet your food had hardly any taste.

If you are eating your cheat meal, you definitely want to chew it well so you get all the flavor out of it you can.

“Chewing food is a good thing.”

 

There is also a digestive benefit to chewing. The enzymes in your saliva start breaking down your food before it even gets to your stomach. Our body utilizes the mouth, stomach and intestines to maximize absorption of necessary nutrients. Remember, food is really fuel to sustain life, so help your body be fuel efficient by allowing each part to do its function.

 

#3 – Keep your nutrition tight 90% of the time

This time of year you really need to stay on track with your nutrition most of the time so you can afford to partake in some of the rich food that comes with the holidays. If you have a big family gathering or catered company party at the end of the week, pay strict attention to what you eat the whole week leading up to the event.

“Choose your calories wisely.”

 

Stay away from the candy bowl that arrived with Halloween and has sub-leased desk space until Valentine’s Day.  Cut your usual coffee beverage for the next month and a half to make room for festive eating. Decline the typical muffin, doughnut or bagel at the morning meetings.  Normally you may get to include all the things above but this time of year you may need to nix those extras in order to maintain your 90% compliance.

If you get derailed once or twice, don’t use it as an excuse to go totally nuts. Get back on track and move forward.

 

#4 – Splurge only on the foods you LOVE

If you’ve been following your nutrition plan 90% of the time you can indulge in something that doesn’t qualify as a 90% menu item. Make sure you save your splurge for the foods you absolutely love, love, love.  Sure that store-bought sugar cookie may be good but if your favorite cookie of all time is the peanut butter cookie your mom sends every year, then forget about the so-so sugar cookie and go for the peanut butter one.

Chances are you are already looking forward to specific foods that only appear this time of year.  Lots of people have lists in their heads of the things they can’t wait to eat for the holidays.

“Pie, anyone?”

 

Stuffing or dressing, macaroni and cheese, potatoes au gratin, cranberry sauce, gravy, hot cocoa, cookies, candy, the list goes on and on.  That’s okay, just prioritize or rank your reward foods, don’t settle for the 8 – 12th place dishes, go for the 1st -4th place dishes. Why waste your tasty reward on just any old food?

 

#5 – No Guilt for 10% Treat Meals

If you have prepared your healthy lunches, added in several servings of vegetables each day or complied with whatever healthy eating plan you have mapped out 90% of the week, then you need to allow yourself to enjoy a reward meal. Beware of attaching guilt to your reward meal, it ruins the fun! If you’ve earned it, go for it, feel the joy. If you haven’t earned it, correct your course and get as close as you can to hitting 90%.

“Beating yourself up does almost no good.”

 

For most people the all work and no play adage applies to your eating plan as well. You need periodic boosts to help you sustain the nutrition habits that you don’t enjoy as much or the ones you find difficult to put into practice.

If you give it power, guilt can turn into a destructive emotional and mental state with undesirable effects such as enhancing your perception of negative aspects of your life and causing you to make poor decisions that do not benefit you.  Instead, convert those brief feelings of guilt into positive power to help you forge ahead with your nutrition plan.

 

#6 – It’s OK to Say No To Food

Scene: Crowded living room, delicious smells coming from the kitchen, lots of loved ones, lots of food. A loved one is lovingly urging you to eat up.  She is telling you to try this, taste one of these and have another one of those.

You’ve committed to not over-eating, so now what? It is okay to say no thank you to offerings of food. You are not being rude. Prepare your strategy and what you’ll say ahead of time so you are not caught without a plan.  Do what you need to do.

“You do not need to make others feel comfortable with your food choices.”

 

Take a moment right now to plan out a couple responses.  I’ll get you started with a good one, “No thank you!”

 

#7 – Reprogram Your Buffet Mode

Enter the buffet. The objective at a buffet seems to be to eat as much as possible. Most are marketed as, “All you can eat,” with the point being to stuff yourself; I call this Buffet Mode.

Family dinners often feel like an all you can eat buffet, prompting you to go into Buffet Mode. I hear this in a robotic voice, “Buffet. Mode. On.” or in a smooth artificial female voice, “Initiating Buffet Mode, now.”

It’s time to reprogram your Buffet Mode. Plan to eat just enough of only what you truly feel like eating. If you love everything offered, serve yourself very small one or two bite helpings. You’d be surprised how a tiny serving will give you the taste and satisfaction you want, especially if you are indeed sampling many dishes.

“Buffet Mode successfully updated.”

 

Map out your buffet or family dinner plan of attack!  Take a walk through to see what is being offered and choose the foods you want to eat the most.  Don’t waste real estate on your plate with foods you don’t like that much.  If you served yourself something and find it doesn’t taste as good as you thought it would, don’t eat any more.  Stop.

Just because there is a lot of food, doesn’t mean you have to eat a lot of food. Just because you paid $45, doesn’t mean you have to eat (what you estimate to be) $45 worth of food.  Just because someone is pushing you to eat more, doesn’t mean you have to eat more.

 

Bonus Tip

Keep up with your workouts, they help keep your mind and body on track.  Missing workouts can be a gateway to overeating and tossing your whole nutrition and exercise plan out the window for six weeks.

 

Recap

If you are looking to keep yourself from overeating or overindulging for the next 6 weeks, you want to pick and choose wisely.  It will require you to think before you eat; you can’t be on a “see” food diet.

“I’m on a seefood diet, when I see food I eat it.”

 

Plan to succeed so you will succeed.  Remember why you are being mindful and purposeful with your nutrition.  Remember that it is possible to enjoy the holidays without overeating.  Remember how good your body feels when you eat clean.  Remember you can indulge without overindulging.

Enjoy your family, friends and food on your own terms.  Wishing the best for you and your family these holidays and the new year approaching.

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