With the holidays upon us, we’re all going to overeat, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about! We tend to eat more socially (distracted eating leads to overeating). Not to mention, no one wants to miss out on their favorite foods that they only get to eat once or twice a year. Still, the fatty, heavy foods and cocktails we consume around the holidays (although delicious) can leave us feeling lethargic and even uncomfortable. Here are some holiday tips to feeling your best:
Eat breakfast You might be tempted to skip breakfast in preparation of your big dinner, but eating something (even something small) will help you to not overeat when it comes time to feast. Choose a breakfast with lots of fruits or veggies which you might not get later in the day (because really, who’s taking seconds of green beans when there’s stuffing). Oatmeal with fruit or an omelet with veggies are great options!
Slow down! Our bodies don’t tell us we’re full until our stomach starts to stretch or food reaches our intestine. This doesn’t happen immediately, especially when we’re eating fast and not paying attention to the food in front of us. Making an effort to chew your food thoroughly and put your fork down between bites can help you tune into your body’s cues, before you reach stomach-ache territory.
Use a smaller plate Many of us can find it hard to stop eating when there’s still delicious food on our plate. Try using a smaller plate, and if you’re still hungry, go back for seconds!
Wear comfortable clothing There’s nothing worse than tight pants digging into your stomach after a big meal. Choose pants with a bit of stretch or wear a belt you can loosen; wearing tight clothes can actually impede digestion and prolong indigestion.
Don’t lie down immediately Many of our holiday staples -- alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods -- are heartburn triggers. Lying down immediately can worsen heartburn. If your family is moving into the living room for after-dinner drinks and a movie, try to elevate your head and use gravity to your advantage to help your body digest your food.
Take a walk after dinner Even better than not lying down after dinner -- get moving! You don’t have to go far; even a short walk can stimulate your digestive system. Maybe after eating the table scraps the pup in the house would appreciate a walk too
Enjoy your meal! While you might be worried about holiday weight gain and already thinking about your holiday detox, my best advice would be to go back to your normal, healthy diet. Restricting yourself will likely lead to more overeating. Use leftover turkey to make a vegetable-packed soup and eat buttery mashed potatoes and stuffing with a big side salad containing a lean protein. Trust your body to get you back on track just by eating whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables -- no need to feel guilty for enjoying the holidays!
Written and researched by Sarah Kozlowski Nutrition and Dietetics student UMASS Amherst
Reviewed and editted by Nicole Maslar RDN, LDN