Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tips to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays


There are many reasons we overeat during the season of celebration. Preparation for the holidays exacerbates everyday stress by adding more social obligations, financial pressures and time constraints. Stress can also accumulate from family members or expectations to have a great time at parties.

Even if you're having a great time, it's easy to lose track of calories. Social pressure from "food pushers" may be difficult to manage without hurting their feelings, or you feeling guilty. And if you think New Year's resolutions will eliminate those extra pounds, think again! Most weight loss resolutions don't last.

So, what can we do to manage our cravings, stress and avoid weight gain during this time of caloric bombardment? Here are seven tips to get you through with ease and enjoyment.

1. Experiment:
Allow yourself to have anything and everything you want to eat, but become a fabulous food manager. Food may not make you fat, but food abuse might! Choose seasonal foods you aren't likely to eat during the rest of the year -- eliminate those commonly available. For example, choose squash pudding instead of eating bread with butter.

2. Serve Yourself:
Politely insist on serving yourself. Take very small portions, eat slowly, and pay close attention to taste and cues of becoming full. Enjoy seconds or thirds of what you love, but keep the portions small and don't feel guilty for leaving out what's less than delicious. Leftovers are either wasted in the garbage or wasted on your body, and the former is much less fattening!

3. Politely Push Away:

Handle well-intentioned hosts who continually offer more food by showering them with compliments and appreciation. And kindly refusing to overindulge. If they are insulted by your refusal to overeat, recognize that it is their problem to cope with.

4. Know Your Limits:
Fats are fattening -- so eat nuts one at a time, eliminate some crusts on pies, and limit how much you drink eggnog. Begin with slivers of appealing deserts, and go back for more if you want. But don't hoard everything onto one plate.

5. Be Active:
Continue to exercise by adapting to the season. Dress in layers with a hat, remembering that outdoor activity warms you up quickly. Try a family activity or work out inside, run up and down stairs, or sneak away to the gym, even for 20 minutes!

6. Compensate:
Minimize calories throughout the day or week by having low calorie nutrition bars or a glass of a low calorie nutritional drink. Doing this before going to events can help you avoid being ravenous and maximize control of your hunger.

7. Find Support:
Holiday stress is as common as holiday blues. The holidays can emphasize feelings of isolation and loneliness -- which can cause us to eat to deal with the pain -- and leads to fattening results. Try to become your own best friend by soothing yourself with kind words, instead of beating yourself up for not meeting increased demands. Or find support from friends or express your emotions through journal writing.

Remember, deprivation as well as over-indulgence can sabotage any reasonable plan, so enjoy responsibly.

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