Holiday Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Avoid Overeating

From an overabundance of food choices to tantalizing restaurant commercials, many factors make overeating an easy habit to fall into. Though occasional overeating is typically normal and harmless, an ongoing pattern can lead to feelings of shame and can fuel related health problems such as high blood pressure. The following strategies can help keep your food intake in a reasonable place. If your behaviors are severe and long-lasting, seek support from a qualified professional such as a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders.

1. Eating mindfully

Have you ever noticed how quickly your food seems to vanish when you eat in front of the TV? Taking your time to eat without plentiful distraction can enhance portion control. Known as mindful eating, this practice helps you stay in better touch with your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Pay attention to the flavors and textures of the food, rather than your phone, laptop, or TV.

2. Fill up on fiber

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that fills you up without contributing calories. By eating more fiber-rich foods, such as berries, dark leafy greens, beans, and lentils, you’ll have less room for lower-nutrient, higher-calorie foods that are easy to overeat such as chips and candy.

3. Ask yourself what you’re really hungry for

It’s easy to eat for emotional reasons, such as stress, sadness, or even boredom. If you find yourself craving more food than you feel you need, ask yourself what you really desire. Is it more relaxation, sleep, or emotional support? If you’re still hungry upon realizing the answer and coming up with a solution, have a modest portion of a food you desire.

4. Cut back on salty and sugary foods

Sweets and salty foods can fit within a healthy diet, but they’re easy to overeat. Focus on less processed foods instead, which tend to contain less sodium and added sugar than processed fare. Have brown rice more often than french fries, for example, and fresh fruit instead of candy.

5. Use the plate method

To improve portion control, imagine a line down the center of your meal plates, and the one half divided in two. Fill half of your plate with fresh or cooked vegetables or fruits. In one of the quarters, add a lean protein source such as fish or tofu, and the other with a healthy starch, like a baked sweet potato or whole-grain pasta. Make sure the meal contains a modest amount of fat, too. Healthy sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado.

6. Split restaurant meals

Restaurant portions tend to be super-sized and denser in unhealthy fat and calories than homemade meals. To enjoy meals out and prevent overeating, too, share meals with a friend or family member. If you dine out alone, save half for leftovers.

7. Don’t start meals starving

If you wait to eat until you’re famished, you can easily go overboard. Stay on top of your appetite by eating healthy snacks such as fresh veggies and hummus or apple slices with almond butter between meals. Start dinners out with an appetizer salad drizzled with oil and vinegar.

8. Offer to bring a healthy dish to parties

Chances are you’re not the only person at any given party on a mission to make healthier food choices. Offer to bring a nutritious dish to share such as a whole-grain pasta salad, a veggie tray, or strawberries dipped in dark chocolate for a healthier dessert.

9. Stay well-hydrated

It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. By consuming plenty of fluids, you can keep your appetite in a better place, staving off needless munchies. Smart options include water, herbal tea, low-fat milk, and broth-based soups.

10. Eat enough

Under-eating is a sure way to spike your appetite. It can also slow your metabolism, making unwanted weight gain more likely. Aim for several balanced meals each day with snacks in between, as needed, or five to six mini-meals throughout each day.

If you do everything you can to improve your diet and still have stubborn fat areas, consider SculpSure. We love offering the noninvasive laser treatment that permanently destroys fat cells. Contact our office to learn more, or book an appointment using the online scheduler.

Dr. Alice Mckee Dr. McKee grew up in Leland, Mississippi, before attending both the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Barnard College of Columbia in New York City, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Before beginning medical school, she worked at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

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