How to Keep Your Holiday Appetite in Check

‘Tis the season of giving – and eating.  There is no season more notorious than the winter holidays for overindulging in favorite foods and drinks.  We’re all guilty of it, and having a little too much of a good thing is inevitable this time of year.  But if you’re trying to lose weight – or just not gain weight – and want to lighten the load on your plate, here are some healthy eating tips to keep in mind for your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa feasts and festivities.

Scope out the healthy food first   The temptation is often to go for the good stuff first.  Cake, pie, bread rolls, and all things fluffy and sweet are the favorites.  Instead of falling victim to your cravings, silence than voice that says, “It’s only once a year!” and eat something healthy before you go for the heavier stuff.  Every party has some food that’s good for you – hearty soups, veggie dishes, and fruit plates are a good place to start, but you can also have a little cheese and some lean meat.  Once you’ve had your fill on this goodness, you will be too full to overindulge on the fattening and sugary foods. The less snack-y the food, the better, because with snack-like foods it’s easy to keep eating, and eating, eating…

Savor each and every bite   Overeating often coincides with mindless eating.  Be conscious of how much food you load on your plate, and check yourself before you add more to the pile.  As per the above tip, pay attention to the quality of what you put on your plate as much as the quantity. Whatever’s on your plate, take the time to really enjoy it.  Put a small amount on your fork or spoon with each bite, and chew slowly to really savor the flavors.  Scarfing down your food is a sure way to feel like a pig later.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach   Mall food: it’s our best friend and our worst enemy when holiday shopping. Crossing off names on your gift list can be exhausting, and there’s nothing like a quick pick-me-up snack or meal at the food court. But many of the food court options are not going to help you stay healthy over the holidays. To avoid having to eat too much mall fare, nibble on something or even eat an entire meal before heading out on your shopping spree. When you do need sustenance to reenergize, choose to eat at a restaurant or a salad bar with healthier options rather than a stop-and-go fast-food place.

Hack your appetite   Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that’s exactly what happens on Christmas or Hanukkah and all we want to do afterward is unzip our jeans. Seeing all that food can make us think we’re hungry when we’re really not. Being aware of this is half the battle. The other half is controlling yourself when the food is in front of you. There are some things you can do to keep your appetite in check. On the day of a big food event, be sure to eat breakfast. Having a decent meal in the morning can curb food cravings and hunger later in the day. Have a few snacks during the day – the last thing you want to do is fast all day in anticipation of the big meal. When you’re at a dinner event and you’re tempted to get a second (or third or fourth) plate of food, knowing you don’t really need it, try popping a mint in your mouth instead. The oral fixation can be a strong placebo.

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