Even if most of us see the festive season as a grace period during which we don’t pay as much attention to what we eat as we normally do, it is important to avoid falling off the wagon completely.
Not only does overeating set your progress back much more than you might think, it also makes you feel horrible – especially if you have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits in the months prior to December.
Here are eight ways to avoid overeating this festive season.
1. Wear fitted clothes
Don’t knock this until you’ve tried it. Wearing pants that don’t have elastic in the waistband can make a significant difference in the way you eat, because it makes you uncomfortable and aware that you might have had enough, thus limiting your portions and second or third helpings.
2. Everything in moderation
Avoid explicitly depriving yourself of certain treats during the holidays – you’ll only want them more and you’ll overindulge once you allow yourself to have them. No one is saying you can’t have a Christmas cookie. You just shouldn’t have the entire tin.
3. Plan ahead
If you know you’re having Christmas dinner at your parents’ house, and you know you won’t be able to resist more than one plate of food (prepared lovingly by the culinary master that is your mother) cut down a little on the days leading up to the dinner. Limit your caloric intake slightly to allow for a little indulgence when it’s due.
4. Limit snacks around the house
Here’s the thing: if there is a bag of chips, a party pack of chocolates and two boxes of biscuits in the pantry, you’ll probably eat the whole lot in a few days – just because it’s there! Try to limit the amount of snacks around the house – of course you can be a little more lenient about them, seeing as it’s time for a break from routine – to avoid being tempted into binging on everything while you binge-watch that series you’ve been looking forward to the entire year.
5. Stay hydrated
Athletes know that drinking something when you’re thirsty is drinking something too late. Stay hydrated with water or a low-calorie beverage during the day. Drinking water helps to maintain the balance of fluid in the body, as well as helping the body to transport and absorb nutrients. If you’re hydrated like you should be, you’ll probably avoid overeating, because you’ll feel fuller than when you’re thirsty.
6. Limit your alcohol intake
Many people do a relatively good job of maintaining their eating habits in December, only to drink significantly more alcohol than they do the rest of the year. The simple carbohydrates in some cocktails and mixers tend to give the drinker a huge sugar rush just after consuming them, which later turns into a crash that leaves them ravenous and prone to overeat. Try to take your drinks neat, if possible, and have a glass of water between drinks to avoid drinking too much. Nobody likes it when Santa gives them a hangover for Christmas.
7. Don’t abandon your exercise routine
Going cold turkey on your exercise routine has a very big impact on how your body processes (and stores) the extra food you consume during the holidays. Take it a bit slower than you normally would, but try to still do some form of physical activity every day. Simply going for a walk along the beach reminds your body that you’re only giving it the break and that it’s not totally off the hook.
8. Get enough sleep
Studies done by the Mayo Clinic have found that men and women who get less than five hours of sleep a night are much more likely to crave (and eat) high-calorie foods. Even if “school night rules” aren’t applicable now, try to get enough rest. It’ll keep your cravings in check, and leave you rested and ready for all the challenges and goals that 2019 brings.