Take Control of the Spread: 7 Tips to Avoid
Overeating During the Holidays
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family traditions and to be mindful of our deep gratitude for the joys of life. It is not a time to feel guilt or to be rigid with ourselves. Overeating on thanksgiving is a common concern and it usually progresses to overeating on Christmas, overdrinking on New Years and over judging ourselves in the New Year. What’s up with all this overdoing?! I’m here to tell you that overdoing is a part of being human in this world of plenty. You’re not alone in having to unbutton the belt buckle on the eve of turkey day and you’re certainly not alone if you criticize yourself or over exercise on black Friday. As a doctor, I find that much of the stress around the holidays stems from this terror of
the inevitability of overdoing. Wouldn’t it be nice to enter the holiday season, not as a victim but instead as a creator? I want to emphasize that overeating rarely has anything to do with a lack of self-control. I promise you that the majority of the time, you overeat because you’re just really hungry! Who can resist such a plentiful bounty with such an empty
This thanksgiving, I invite you to leave self-judgment at the door so that you can practice what I call taking control of the holiday spread. With a few strategies to set you up for success, you can approach the turkey and all her delicious fixings with a new found clarity and actually enjoy your meal, your pie AND your leftovers.
1) Tip number one: DON’T WORRY ABOUT OVEREATING! The holidays are a time of joy, community and celebration. It’s
completely normal and safe to taste all of the bounty and to feel a little overly full. If you feel generally well, aren’t coping with a
medical condition that requires you to avoid certain foods and reeeeeally like pie-please enjoy it and stop reading after this tip.
If you have a health goal you are working towards and have made a commitment to yourself for your better wellness not to overeat, read on.
2) Don’t starve before the big meal…Eat a protein rich breakfast (10 grams or more) and do not go longer than 4 hours before the holiday meal without a protein snack
• Celery or carrots with almond butter or hummus
• Hard boiled eggs
• Protein smoothie
3) Eat a large vegetable salad 10 minutes before any appetizers are served. If there won’t be a salad at the party, bring one!
4) Eat mindfully:
• Sit with a family member you need to catch up with
• Take three deep abdominal breaths before starting your meal
• Chew, swallow and savor each bite completely before taking your next one
5) Healthy Alternatives to reduce the glycemic index and the bad fats
|Traditional Ingredient||Healthy Alternative|
|White bread stuffing mix||Quinoa, wild rice, organic sourdough stuffing|
|Margarine||Grass-fed butter or olive oil|
|White potatoes||Cauliflower, celery root or turnips
White sugar honey, banana, dates, coconut sugar, molasses
|Evaporated milk||Coconut milk, organic grass-fed dairy if tolerated|
|White flour thickened gravy||Arrowroot or gelatin|
|Canned cranberry sauce||Homemade sweetened with maple syrup and orange juice|
|White flour pie crust||Add toasted ground pecans to lower the glycemic index|
6) Make more vegetable dishes to cover ½ the plate with colorful
• Healthy green bean casserole
• Roasted carrots and fennel
• “Creamed” spinach or kale with greek yogurt
• Roasted brussel sprouts
• Steamed broccolini
• Green beans with almonds
7) Build a balanced plate:
• ¼ turkey
• ¼ carbohydrate (stuffing, potatoes, yams, rolls)
• ¼ colorful vegetables
• ¼ green vegetables
This will ensure that you have enough nutrients to help you to feel full faster and stay full longer. It will also keep the glycemic load of the meal down so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike too high, which can result in a rebound low blood sugar and, well…midnight turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Be gentle with yourself this holiday season. Remember, thanksgiving is not just a time to show gratitude to our loved ones, it is an opportunity to show ourselves the kind of love and honor we crave. Honor yourself this season by setting yourself up for success. If overeating drives discomfort for you, these are some strategies to preserve the fun and the tradition but allow you to take control of the spread.