Thursday 12 December, 2019

Curb your appetite this Christmas and avoid overeating

By Meisha-Gay Mattis

The holiday season is fast approaching and with it comes a lot of parties and family gatherings, which means one thing—an overabundance of food: Ham, sorrel, mac and cheese, Christmas cake, potato salad, baked chicken, fried chicken—you name it! The temptation to overeat is ever present and it’s harder to resist in such a festive atmosphere, especially if self control isn’t one's forte to begin with.

Around this time of the year, I always get a lot of people asking if it’s alright or even possible to indulge only to a certain degree. This week, I’ll share with you an action play to ‘indulge responsibly’ without overdoing it at the dinner table.


Stick to your workout routine

Yes! I’m going to start there even though we’re talking about eating. It’s big mistake to ditch your regular workout regimen thinking you'll just pick it back up in January. If you'll be pigging out, you may as well keep exercising so as to not have an uphill battle at the beginning of January. It might be harder to find the time with the rush of activities, but even if you have to skip a day or two, do not halt physical activity completely. Come January, you’ll just be struggling to redevelop the habit of working out. Don’t forget tremendous health benefits of physical activity that you’ve been enjoying all year, such as: increased energy levels, helping to maintaining a balanced weight, reduced bone density loss, increased muscle mass, improved mood and lower anxiety, among others.


Vegetables first

I won’t even tell you to not pig out because it’s practically inevitable. At some point in time, you will get full and there’ll still be so many other dishes to try that you just keep going. That’s why I’ll say eat your veggies first. They are rich in fibre, which helps you to feel and stay full longer, which might not be such a bad idea if you really want to maintain control of your eating this season. It might prevent you from having seconds and thirds.


Take a plate and have a seat

We know it’s a time for chitchatting and laughter, and it’s customary to get caught up in the moment when you go to your friends’ or relatives’ homes. You end up picking a little bite here and there: some chicken, fish, potato salads, cake, and so on. Your brain is most likely to lose track picking at bites and it becomes easier to overeat. Instead, fix yourself a plate, sit and enjoy the meal. The chatter can continue afterwards.


Use smaller plates and glasses

Since we’re on the subject of plates, it’s better to grab a smaller plate than your regular sized dinnerware. Smaller plate helps you to keep an eye on your portions. The same goes for glasses. You really don’t need that 18 oz glass of sorrel with all that added sugar. A regular 10 oz glass is just fine.


Sip some water

Have some water with your meals, even if you're having a glass a of wine or some other beverage. It's also good to sip on some water in between meals to fill those gaps. It helps to prevent mindless eating and overindulging in those high-sugar, high-calorie drinks. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to make water your prefered beverage throughout the season, before and after meals. 


Eat before leaving home

No, I’m not crazy. If the party isn’t at your house, it would benefit you to eat a small healthy and nutritious snack before heading out. It helps to curb your hunger so you don’t feel famished by the time you arrive at your event, which reduces your chances of overeating. 


Eat slowly

It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is indeed full. When you eat slowly, you have more time to enjoy your meal by savoring each bite and even observing the texture of your foods. You'll find that you have a greater appreciation for your food and you're less likely to raid the dessert table.


Don’t deprive yourself

If you see it and want it, it’s ok to have it—once it’s not something with allergens or that will make you sick. In the same sense that one healthy meal doesn't make you healthy, one bad meal doesn't make you unhealthy, either. But strive for some of it instead of all of it. Think smaller portions, and you really don’t need to go for seconds and thirds.

Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email for more information or visit any of the following 

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