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Ways to Prevent Overindulgence (Holidays & Special Events)

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Try these effective ways to minimize overeating and find what works for you! Be on the lookout for part two, where I’ll share how my husband and I replaced our binge eating habits with healthier options.

Part One - Managing Special Events & Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching overindulgence is a concern for those of us with health or performance goals. Don’t get me wrong, we all love to splurge every now and again and overeating at one meal won't completely derail our progress.

thanksgiving turkey dinner

However, when faced with multiple special events it's easy to convince ourselves that “today is special.” Before long, we can find ourselves in a frustrating cycle that leads to excess calories, extra pounds, and lack of progress in meeting our goals.

So what can we do when we are trying to fuel our body with good nutrition and special events keep popping up?

I assure you we CAN be proactive and find realistic ways to support our health and performance goals.

One of the best things we can do is go in with a game plan and remain aware of what can negatively influence our appetite. Here's how to do it:

1. Be aware of the buffet effect.

Researchers have found the more food choices we have, the more calories we tend to eat. We are less likely to overeat if only a few options are being served. However, since we are often not in control of what is being served here’s what we can do about it:

  • We can fill our plate with lower calorie options like raw veggies and salad. If we pair veggies with a high-fat food like nuts or avocado we can promote blood sugar stability, decrease hunger, and increase a sense of fullness.

  • Since it’s easier to justify over-snacking when doing so with others, we can simply step away from the buffet! By avoiding conversations near the food we will be less likely to mindlessly snack.

  • Did you know our brains actually trick us when we eat a variety of foods? According to researcher Stephan Guyenet, author of The Hungry Brain, when we expose our brains to a variety of sensory properties and tastes (like creamy fats, savory salts, and sweet treats) chemical reactions take place that make us crave more food and inhibit our ability to feel full. One of the best ways to overcome the buffet effect is to first scan the entire spread of food before we load our plate. If we choose a healthy portion of just 2-3 foods we will decrease the number of sensory properties we expose our brain to and minimize urges to overeat. The blander the foods = the better this trick will work.

2. Don’t go hungry!

We will be less inclined to snack if we enjoy our favorite protein shake or a filling snack prior to an event. One of my favorite things to do when I know I will be tempted with ballgame treats, fair food, or food trucks is to pack healthy snacks in my purse for myself and my family. When it comes to little kids, here's an article where I share an idea to try when surrounded by sweet treats.

3. Beverage watch!

Alcohol consumption adds up. Make sure to research lower calorie options you might enjoy instead of sugar-laced cocktails and heavy beer.

Cocktails being prepared on a bar

When indulging, my husband and I make sure to drink water in between and drink a combo of an electrolyte and alkalizing supplement prior to bed. This can help shift the body out of a potential fat storage mode, minimize hangovers, and decrease next day sugar cravings.

4. Define your splurge ahead of time.

If you know you want to indulge in a few special foods think through what you will choose. When it comes time to enjoy those special foods do just that, enjoy them! Commit to taking it easy on yourself, knowing that a few purposeful selections will not derail your progress. The key is to be proactive and pre-plan realistic ways you will manage other temptations.

Bottom-line: Go in with a game plan and stick to it!

The Power of Saying it Out Loud

So what happens after we have our game plan ready to go? How can we actually stick to it when surrounded by others who are encouraging us to fill our bellies ’til our belts pop off?

Friends eating dinner

Check out this article for simple mindset shifts that can help. In addition, one of the best things we can do is share our goal with others. If you know a specific family member or friend regularly influences you to make poor food choices, let them know you have a specific health goal and why it is important to you.

In the past, I’ve shared when I was a part of a group challenge or training for an important race. For those who care about us, they either understand and support us, or bombard us with reasons why it’s ok to indulge “just for today.”

Unfortunately, we cannot control the responses of others. At the very least, by verbalizing your goal it is a reminder to yourself why you want to make healthier choices. In the best case scenarios, sharing our goal can result in enlisting some extra support!

Bonus: When Hosting a Party or Dinner

In addition to the above tips, a great way to minimize the impact of hosting a party is to deal with leftovers right away. We can send leftovers home with guests or pack them up in the freezer in individual, pre-portioned containers. It’s a lot harder to snack on yummy leftovers if we have to defrost individual portions!

Outdoor family party

So there you have it. You are now armed with a few creative ways to manage parties and special events. Find what works for you and work it!

Team Valentine Project is all about finding simple, realistic, and science-based ways to make wellness work. Make sure to see all of our wellness content by following @TeamValentineProject on Facebook and Instagram and subscribing below!

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