“Luckily, you can prevent that ‘Where in the world did these extra six pounds come from?!?’ shock by simply making an effort to be aware of what you’re putting in your mouthand when,” says Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez, author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management (iUniverse, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-4401-0228-8, $14.95, ).
According to Rodriguez, you can prevent mindless holiday eating (including overindulging and making unhealthy selections) by knowing beforehand what temptations you’re going to be faced with…and making a conscious decision to eat mindfully.
“When you approach the buffet table or snack tray with a clear strategy in mind, you’ll not only prevent unintended calorie consumptionyou’ll also enjoy the food you do eat much more!” she promises. “Plus, you’ll be able to focus more of your attention on conversation and fellowship, which is what the season is truly about.”
Read on for a dozen of Dr. Rodriguez’s suggestions for eschewing mindless eating, holiday eating tips, at parties and private gatherings alike:
Have a pre-party plan. If you know you’re going to be faced with a seemingly endless array of food choices at a given event, force yourself to stop and think about what you’d most like to eat before taking your place in line. The fact is, many of us have eyes that end up being bigger than our stomachs, but we feel compelled to join the clean plate club regardless.
“If you have a tendency to overindulge, recognizing that fact is half the battle,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Promise yourself that you’ll choose an appropriate amount of food in order to feel satisfied, not stuffed!”
Focus on your friends and familynot the food. When you walk into your company’s holiday party or your daughter’s dance recital, don’t hone in on the snack table. While the hors d’oeuvres table might be crowded with treats and people, focus on socializing with friends and family instead of on the food. Remember, conversation is calorie-free!
“There are so many activities during the season that food doesn’t have to be your main focus,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “When you go to holiday gatherings, slow down and enjoy the atmosphere and then think about eating. Most people will already be on their second (or third!) plates, and you’ll still be on track with your healthy lifestyle.”
Don’t show up starving. At one point or another, we’ve all been guilty of starving ourselves before food-filled festivities, figuring that our hunger will enable us to enjoy the bounty all the more. Well, says Dr. Rodriguez, that’s a flawed theory. Going to a party starving only causes you to unwittingly eat too much in too short of a time frame.
“You may have noticed: It’s hard to enjoy food, not to mention make good choices, when you’re ravenous,” she points out. “To avoid mindless overload, try eating a small bowl of broth-based soup or other light morsel before leaving home. It’ll knock the edge off your hunger without costing tons of calories. Also, if you know you’re going to an appetizer party, have your regular meal at home and stick to a small dessert and drink at the event. Appetizers lead to overeating because the mind sees small quantities and keeps asking for more.”
Go for the H2O. Hot chocolate, hot toddies, eggnog, peppermint tea, and wassail are just a sampling of the many popular holiday drinks you’ll be confronted with. Enjoy them in moderation, yes…but don’t forget about good old water! Keeping a full glass at your desk or a bottle in your car can be one of your best allies in the battle of preventing the bulge.
“It’s so important to be aware of hydration!” stresses Dr. Rodriguez. “Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as you stay busy with holiday activities. Dehydration can make you feel fatigued and can make you confuse thirst with hunger, which causes overeating.”
Put veggies in the vanguard. Be honestyou know that “pre-ssert” is a bad idea. So don’t act shocked when you don’t have room for anything else after sampling every type of sweet treat available. Better yet, avoid this pitfall by eating your vegetables first.
“Most of us would like to believe that calories and fat don’t count during the holidays, but that’s just not how it works,” Rodriguez says. “Part of eating mindfully is making a decent amount of healthy choices. And honestly, veggies can be pretty tasty!”
Do your nutritional due diligence. The “I didn’t know it was that fattening!” excuse holds only so much water. If you’re serious about making healthy holiday food choices, it’s your responsibility to have a good working knowledge of common dishes’ nutritional properties (or lack thereof).
“Honestly, the calorie count of many common party foods can be downright shocking,” shares Dr. Rodriguez. “For example, one cup of eggnog has 343 calories, one piece of pecan pie is packed with 480 calories, and two tablespoons of cheese ball have 90 calories. By themselves, those amounts may not sound bad, but they can add up in a hurry! When making choices, it’s helpful to go for colorful dishes and for those that are the least ‘doctored up’ with sauces, cheeses, etc.”
Consider your stomach when shopping. When you’re frantically rushing about trying to check off gift purchases for everyone ranging from your boss to Great-Aunt Minnie, you usually don’t think about meals until you’re literally faint with hunger. And at that point, the shortest line in the food court looks pretty good, even if everything on the menu is deep-fried.
“This year, prevent diet disasters at the mall by planning ahead,” suggests Dr. Rodriguez. “Think about how long you’re likely to be gone, and be sure to eat something healthy and filling before leaving home. Also, put a few healthy snacks in your purse or car and munch on them in between stores. And if you’re planning on buying a food-court lunch, consider doing so a little before or after standard mealtimes so that a long line won’t prevent you from getting the salad or sub you want.”
Stand firm at the family feast. Soon, grandmas all over America will be urging their loved ones to eat “just one more piece of pieit won’t hurt!” Yes, Grandma’s intentions are good, but her advice isn’t rooted in reality. Promise yourself that when you’re faced with this type of persuasion, you’ll stand firm and reply, “It was truly delicious, but I honestly can’t eat another bite.”
“At family dinners, especially, the ability to get seconds or even thirds is incredibly tempting,” Dr. Rodriguez admits. “To avoid accidental overeating, you’ve got to decide beforehand not to double-dip needlesslyand that’ll be much easier if you treat the time leading up to this special meal like any other: Don’t skip breakfast or lunch, and make sure you’re not starving beforehand so that your appetite is in control. Also, stick to reasonable portion sizes. For example, a piece of meat the size of your palm is probably enough, especially with all of the accompanying sides.”
Find your balance. We may be smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, but thankfully the guidelines for what constitutes a balanced meal remain the same. To stay on a healthy path, Dr. Rodriguez recommends trying to eat something high in protein (such as lean meats, cheeses, nuts, or eggs) combined with some complex carbs (those that are made with whole grains) at each meal.
Know your too-much triggers. It’s no secret that holiday stress leads to holiday overeating. So if you tend to overeat when you’re nervous or stressed, it’s very helpful to be aware of that fact before you start compulsively chowing down on Chex Mix. No, you won’t be able to completely avoid nerve-wracking situations altogether this season…but you can have a healthier alternative coping strategy in place beforehand.
Don’t disregard drinks. The fact is, drinks don’t seem as unhealthy as food, but that’s not always what the calorie count says. You need to be just as aware of the liquids you’re putting into your mouth as you are of the foods.
“This time of year, it’s important to manage your alcohol intake especially,” specifies Dr. Rodriguez. “With plenty of toasts and the need for liquid courage at karaoke-featuring office parties, it’s easy to overindulge. Decide how many drinks you want to have before going to any given event and stick to that number! The fact is, alcohol puts you at a huge disadvantage when it comes to overeating because it blurs your judgment and lowers your inhibitions, causing you to eat more.”
When you’re hosting, include healthy hors d’oeuvres. While you can’t control the menu at other events, you do get to decide what to serve at your own dinners and shindigs. So be sure to include a few healthy optionsthere are tons of recipes out there!
These holiday eating tips are tips that we should look at and pin to the fridge so that we don’t forget them now or even in the summer during summer BBQ season
About the Author:
Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez is a clinical psychologist and an expert trained in treating eating issues and weight problems. For more than thirty years, she has observed how people set themselves up for failure through unrealistic diets and exercise programs, as well as through buying into out-and-out scams designed to take advantage of individuals who seriously want to improve their health and lives. She is concerned about people being misled regarding the most effective ways to lose and manage weight over a lifetime.
Over the years, Dr. Rodriguez has treated many people, has written articles on the subjects of eating disorders in particular and weight loss in general, and has written a book titled Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management.
I hope these holiday eating tips have helped you out I certainly li9kes them. Check out the good doctors book as well!