Stuffing is for Turkeys: How to Cut Back at Big Family Meals
Can’t Get No Satisfaction?
Everyone enjoys indulging in their holiday favorites, especially at big family gatherings. However, there's a difference between indulging in a few special treats and stuffing yourself silly. With a few simple strategies, you can stay satisfied without feeling over-stuffed.
With so much delicious holiday fare, it's tempting to gobble it up fast, but don't. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fast eating short-circuits the signals that your digestive system sends to your brain to indicate that you’re full. When you eat more slowly, your stomach and intestines have more time to let your brain catch up with your body.
Stick to Your Favorite Dishes
The holidays present many options for new types of dishes—and many of them are sugary and unhealthy. To ensure that you don't overdo it, be more selective about what foods you eat.
Don't just try everything at the holiday buffet. Choose your favorites and pass on the rest. This will help you avoid eating too many calories in one sitting.
Quit While You're Ahead
When you're feeling very hungry, it's easy to keep eating until you feel full. But it actually takes about 20 minutes for your stomach's signals of fullness to reach your brain. To avoid over-stuffing yourself, try to stop eating before you feel completely full. It also helps to dull your ravenous appetite before a holiday party or big meal by having a healthy snack first.
Be Delicate With Desserts
You may have a sweet tooth for holiday goodies, but rich desserts can carry excessive amounts of calories and fats. For example, just one slice of cheesecake can contain nearly 800 calories and close to 50 grams of fat. Worse yet, over half of the fat content in cheesecake comes from saturated fat, which is 50 percent more than the recommended daily maximum.
If you want to indulge in a dessert, consider taking a smaller portion or splitting it with someone. Better yet, wrap up your meal with a lower-calorie option, such as fruit.
Control Your Portions
It can be hard to keep track of how much you're eating at a holiday party. You may be socializing and having fun, which means you won't be paying close attention to the quantity of food you're eating.
Make a point to take a break from chatting when you put food on your plate and choose smaller portions. If you're at a restaurant or family gathering where serving sizes are already determined, make the decision to eat only a portion of the food on your plate. You can always take the rest home for leftovers.
Eating mindlessly can happen at any time of year, but particularly during the stress of the holiday season. As you enjoy holiday meals, notice if you’re eating out of hunger or to soothe stress, boredom, or anxiety that you may feel during the holiday hustle and bustle. If you're aware of why you're eating, you may be able to make better choices.
Leave Stuffing for the Turkeys
Not only can overeating leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, but your body has to contend with all of the extra calories you've consumed. Remember, it's possible to indulge without over-indulging.
Enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but take care to control your portion sizes and eat slowly. Savor your holiday meal, and the company of family and friends. By using strategies to reduce overeating, you can stay healthier and happier this holiday season and all year round.
- New Releases. (n.d.). Harvard Health Blog RSS. Retrieved November 11, 2013, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605