What You Need to Know About Overeating During the Holidays from What You Need to Know About Overeating During the Holidays

What You Need to Know About Overeating During the Holidays

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What You Need to Know About Overeating During the Holidays

The last month of the year is not famous for inspiring people to get healthy and get rid of bad habits. People’s calendars are full with company holiday parties and family dinners in December. Gaining weight is, many will say, inevitable.

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Watch the alcohol and sugar

People often say “oh, I can eat or drink whatever I want – it’s the holidays!” and they give themselves a pass, Angela Martindale, a celebrity nutritionist, says. “But alcohol and sugary foods suppress your immune system by up to 30 percent, and healthy eating is a year-long commitment—including during the holidays,” she adds.

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Most people gain about 3 lbs.

“You can gain up to 10 pounds if you really overindulge from October to January,” Martindale says, “but the average eater realistically gains 1-3 pounds during the holidays.” The biggest misconception comes from the fact that people don’t remember what they weighed before December. They gain weight slowly throughout the year but think they gained five pounds in a month.

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You may be dehydrated, not hungry

“Often, when we reach for sugary snacks because we feel hungry, we are actually dehydrated,” Martindale says. Remember to always drink water about 10-15 minutes before you eat. You’ll also feel fuller so you won’t end up eating a lot of food. Water may also reduce your appetite.

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You can avoid overeating

Martindale recommends bringing your own healthy treat or meal to holiday parties or social gatherings, drinking water throughout the day, and eating fibrous fruits and veggies and a serving of lean protein 30 minutes before going to a social gathering. “If you do feel the urge to overeat, put your napkin over your plate, push it away, and pop a piece of sugar-free gum or brush your teeth. This trick will hamper your craving to indulge that sweet tooth,” Martindale adds.

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Don’t change attitudes

The holidays make it harder to say no to cravings – there are simply more opportunities to indulge them, Martindale says. “It’s hard not to nibble on every treat you see. But if you can maintain the same attitude about healthy eating in December that you have throughout the year, then you can make it through the season without gaining an uncomfortable amount of weight.”

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Sitting next to a skinny person won’t help

“Sitting next to a thinner or fitter person won’t be motivating or demoralizing if you feel good about your own diet and efforts to improve your health and wellness,” Martindale says. “If you are mindful of the foods you eat for a healthier (not skinnier) body, and you move your body for improved longevity, you will feel good about the skin you’re in.” Body confidence and willpower really comes down to being proud of yourself for making good choices.  

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Don’t starve to “make up” for bigger meals

A study by The Ohio State University suggests that skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain. Not eating at all or simply not enough before exercising, may result in muscle cramps or headaches; feeling anxious, fatigued, irritated, and hungry; or being unable to complete the right type of workout for your body, according to Martindale.

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Don’t fuel incorrectly

“Don’t sabotage your hard work by fueling or refueling incorrectly,” Martindale says. Processed snacks, sugary carbs, bread, high-calorie pasta in sauce, and low-quality protein shakes with high sugar content, for example, can result in fatigue, stomach upset , and heart burn and will not promote healing, repair or energy burn, she adds.

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Make sure you have some protein

One of two big mistakes Martindale sees many people make is not eating enough high quality, lean animal proteins (the other is not hydrating). You will stay satisfied longer, you will have energy, and you won’t spike insulin and suffer from that low you may experience after sugar or carbs settles. Also, she recommends drinking a nutrient-rich smoothie with 30 grams of high quality protein, berries, coconut milk, and spinach, 30 minutes before or after exercising.

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Overeating doesn’t only happen at family gatherings

You can overeat at any time – while having fun with friends, when you’re stressed out, unhappy, happy, or even on a road trip, Martindale says. “You can eat too much of anything, healthy or otherwise, and your body may react with weight gain, upset stomach, headaches, and bloating.” It comes down to awareness. “Knowing what makes your body feel healthy and when to stop will help bring balance back to your daily eating habits,” she adds.

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Overeating even a couple of times can sabotage your healthy diet

You are training your body to accept unhealthy habits over healthy ones, Martindale says. “When you consume too much sugar and your insulin starts overproducing and increasing your cravings, you may find yourself back at square one.” She recommends a mental game: Knowing you are undoing months of hard work in order to over-indulge for a few short weeks may be worse than the indulgence itself.

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You don’t have to be remain perfect

There are lots of relatively healthy, gluten-free dessert options that taste good, just like there are thousands of traditional treats to eat at the holidays, Martindale says. If you are worried about your ability to resist, make your own dessert and take it with you, she adds. “If you want to have one of your grandma’s sugar cookies, go for it. Eat it, savor it, and then pop a piece of sugar-free gum to curb your appetite for more.”

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Avoid non-favorite holiday foods

Never give up non-favorite treats on special days. There would be no joy left in this world. Don’t eat food you are not crazy about. Some experts say this method can be helpful for staying on track with your diet if you’re counting calories – don’t blow them on anything just because it’s on the table.

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You can exercise and still gain weight

You probably often hear the expression that you can’t over-exercise a bad diet? That’s because it’s true, and studies show it. Exercising regularly will definitely help prevent weight gain but don’t do it just for a few weeks in December. Working out will enable you to eat more which is the opposite of your goal. You may feel like it’s OK because you already burned some calories at the gym, but the result is often a pig-out.

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Lack of sleep makes things worse

Many studies show a strong correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. “Try to get a good night’s rest because both your body and brain need it. Missing out on enough shuteye time messes with your hormones. It decreases leptin, the hormone that helps you feel full, and increases ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

What You Need to Know About Overeating During the Holidays