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November 13, 2020

Beat Holiday Bloat; How to Avoid Overeating at Thanksgiving

The holidays are quickly approaching and it's the time of year where many people tend to overeat, over indulge and feel a bit out of control with food. This often leads to unwanted weight gain in the new year and feelings of frustration and hopelessness. 

It's easy to overeat at the holidays because not only is there a lot of high-fat, gooey, sugary foods laying around, but emotions tend to run high at this time of year as well, which leads to eating emotionally.

Emotional eating, even eating from a feeling of nostalgia, as most of us do at holiday season, results in the ingestion of hundreds and even thousands of extra calories. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to digestive upset, bloat and a sluggish system that can take days to recover from.

Here are some powerful tips to support you in staying in alignment with your health values this season and to treat your body well, so that you can move into the New Year feeling light and balanced.

Who wants to start the new year off on another diet or feeling deprived and restricted? I know I don't!

Tip One: How to Avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

Don't starve yourself the morning of the holiday, or even the days leading up to it anticipating all the goodies you will eat. This will only set you up to have blood sugar crashes and massive cravings that can lead to eating emotionally.

On the morning of Thanksgiving make some time to move your body, not just to burn calories so you can eat more, but to get your blood pumping and to give your body some care and attention.  Afterward, eat a hearty, healthy breakfast with a combination of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.

This will help to set your blood sugar up for stability during the day and there will be less of a chance that you will overeat.  Overeating disrupts digestion and prevents proper absorption of nutrients. It can also lead to heartburn, indigestion and bloat. Bottom line, it's not comfortable or good for your system.

Tip TWO: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

See the Food as Food and Nothing More

It's common to start to put rules and restrictions around what you will and won't eat during this time, or to label foods as good or bad. You may even find yourself making negotiations or deals with yourself before you even get to the Thanksgiving table. 

The more time and energy you spend thinking about these things, the more you will miss out on the experience of the holiday and enjoying the pleasure of the food.

Come to the holiday with the intention being a normal eater; someone who listens to their hunger and satiety signals, eats what they want, enjoys it fully and moves on without judgments. 

By putting rules and attention on how much you will eat, or trying not to think about it will only keep you stuck in the vicious cycle and leave you feeling at odds or deprived. This can lead to overeating and the feeling of white-knuckling through the day.

Tip THREE: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Focus on Presence and Connection

Put away your phones, computers and anything that will distract you from being present with your loved ones. The holiday is about enjoying time with the people you love the most; to create deeper connections. Get out a board game, have a conversation, go for a walk or play some cards. 

Use this time to really savor each moment with the people you love. Tell stories, laugh, and connect. Pay attention to what you are doing and how you are showing up. 

Just because there is a lot of food around, doesn't mean you need to eat it. When you stay present and enjoy the experience, there is less of a chance of mindless eating and ingesting way more calories than your body needs or can process.

Tip FOUR: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Choose, Don't Try and Control

As I mentioned in tip two, by putting so much focus and attention on the food, we can often set ourselves up to "fail." When you are trying to control your food, or white-knuckle through a holiday, it will set you up to feel like you are going off the rails and feeling deprived. 

You are the ONLY one who chooses what to eat and how much. NO one is forcing you to eat seconds, or to have dessert. Make choices that feel aligned for you instead of trying to control it. Eat the things you love. Fill your plate in a way that feels satisfying to you. When you eat, slow down, savor and pay attention (see Tip 5.)

The truth is, our bodies don't actually NEED a lot of food and often your eyes can be bigger than your stomach, or maybe you don't want to miss out, so you overdo it.  Just remember, that you do have the choice and you will probably feel a whole lot better if you choose instead of trying to control it all. 

Tip FiVe: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Practice the Pause

This is something I teach all my VIP private clients who are emotional eaters, over-eaters and binge eaters. It's a highly effective strategy, because it attunes us to what our body really needs.  Practicing the pause means taking the time to slow down and attune to your body before you eat.  

Stop, take a deep breath and check in before you move forward. Your body will always tell you what it wants, and it will also tell you whether it's hungry, satisfied or full. Slowing down will help you tune into those sensations even more.

It's very common for people to shovel down the food on their plate in 3 minutes flat so they can have more, but this isn't always in service to you or your body.

You can enjoy the foods you like, but there is no need to stuff yourself to the gills with them. Your body will only suffer the consequences from the stress of that. Instead do your best to eat more mindfully. Savor the food, put your fork down between bites and engage in lively conversation with others at the table.

You can always get more, but you might not need to. Slowing down will actually help you understand if your body is full or not. And it usually supports you in eating a whole lot less than you normally would. Savor the experience, don't rush through it.  

Tip SIX: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Eat Until You Are 80% Full

Most people are not aware of when their body is at 80% full. Food expands in the system after we are done eating. When you tune into your body's subtle cues (Tip 5), you will be able to tell when you are satisfied. This will prevent you from stuffing yourself like the turkey on your table. 

I can usually tell I am getting full when I take my first deep breath while eating; it's kind of like a sigh. Then I stop, put my fork down and take a break. I give myself a little time to check in and see how my body feels before continuing on. Often if I wait, I realize that I am plenty satisfied.

Your food expands around 20% after eating, so if you are stuffing yourself to the gills, you will be even more packed 20 minutes later and your body will have a hard time digesting and assimilating the nutrients you just took in.

Here's the deal, you can always go back and eat more if you need to, but it's better to stop before you are feeling full. Go for the feeling of satisfaction instead. I know this will be hard, but I guarantee you'll feel a whole heck of a lot better! 

Tip SEven: How to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving

Be of Service

Spend your Thanksgiving morning helping those in need. This will put life in perspective when you see how many people in your own neighborhood don't have family to spend their holiday with, or don't have food to eat.

Being of service is the best way to get your mind off food and engaged in something meaningful. I love to go to my local Soup Kitchen in town and serve meals to the homeless. There are tons of organizations out there and ways to be of service, so make that a part of your plan right now while you still have some time.

I know that navigating the holiday season can be tricky, but using these tips will support you in sticking to your health goals, as well as being in alignment with what is important to you. Take the focus off food, and put it on those around you or those in need. Your body and your health will thank you!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Melissa Costello

Author, Speaker, Culinary Plant-Based Nutrition & Health Empowerment Coach | Cleanse Expert

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