How to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

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The holiday season is approaching, and with it comes the urge to indulge. Between holiday parties and family get-togethers you may feel temptation arise.

You know that feeling when you're so full you don't want to stand up? Are you secretly unbuttoning the top of your pants under the dinner table? That's the feeling you need to avoid this holiday season. After all, no one wants to feel uncomfortable and sick at a holiday party.

Staying hydrated throughout the day is key. "Often we think we're hungry but we're actually thirsty," clinical nutritionist Zoe Morosini says. "Making sure you're consuming enough water helps your brain to know the difference between the two, so you don't eat too much at meal times."

Knowing when to stop eating is key. As amazing as the food on your plate looks, you may need to implement these anti-overeating strategies to keep yourself in check.

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Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. It helps improve your mood and increase your energy. Eat "some protein and complex carbohydrates such as egg and veggie omlette," Wendy Dumaresq, a medical herbalist and natural women's health practitioner, says. "Many people find if they have too much simple carbohydrates and breads, cereals, even wholegrain ones, it makes them want to eat more all day." Consuming protein with green vegetables can be very satisfying and prevent binge eating in the morning.

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Don't Arrive to the Party Hungry

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make: arriving to a holiday party on an empty stomach. Make sure to eat a pre-party snack. "Often, the only catering is sugary, fatty or processed foods, so make sure you have a filling snack before you leave home," Sheridan James, a certified integrative health coach and creator of the blog Sugar Free Mum, says. "My go-to is some turkey and avocado wrapped up in a lettuce leaf. The fat and protein will fill you up without weighing you down."

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Take a 'Constitutional'

After you eat your main meal, "try to take a 'constitutional' - a relaxing walk perhaps around the block or somewhere enjoyable, perhaps with all present," Dumaresq says. "This can greatly help circulation and energy, reducing the 'sit down' time which can lead to more overeating."

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Focus on Enjoying Your Food

Practice mindful eating because when you focus on enjoying your food, you are more likely to eat it slower and get fuller faster. "Smell, taste and experience your food," clinical nutritionist Zoe Morosini says. "Smelling and tasting stimulates your gastric secretions, which help to digest your food. Gastric secretions and stomach distension work together to induce satiety - in other words, the better you digest, the better you recognize when you're full."

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Drink a Lot of Water

Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink water - keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. You should be drinking water between meals. "Often we think we're hungry but we're actually thirsty," Morosini says. "Making sure you're consuming enough water helps your brain to know the difference between the two, so you don't eat too much at meal times."

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Relax While You're Eating

Are the holidays stressing you out? Make sure to take a deep breath and relax while you're eating. You tend to eat more food at a faster pace when you're stressed.

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Eat Slower

Think about what you are eating. When you eat fast, you're quickly consuming calories, and before you know it you have cleaned your plate. "Eating slowly allows your brain to catch up with your stomach, allowing you to register when you're full more easily and stop sooner than you normally would," Morosini says.

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Turn Wine in for Water

"For every glass of wine, have a big glass of water," James says. "This has a ton of benefits including keeping you hydrated, flushes out the toxins and helps with the alcohol affects."

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Throw Away Extra Food

Never feel guilty for throwing away the food on your plate that you can't finish eating. Your food is either going to be disposed in the garbage or disposed in your fat cells. Your choice... Tip: When you're done eating, wrap up your food and save it for lunch the next day.

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Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep is associated with overeating and weight gain. Missing out on enough shuteye time messes with your hormones. It decreases leptin, the hormone that helps you feel full, and increases ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

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Drink Peppermint Tea

After your holiday dinner, considering drinking peppermint tea. "Try having a good quality peppermint herbal tea infused for 5 to 10 minutes to help digestion and refresh the taste buds, Dumaresq says. "Sometimes when this tea is taken it can reduce the want to have more food, as there is a nice fresh feeling in the mouth."

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Eat Vegetables First

Always eat the vegetables on your plate first. "Vegetables are full of fiber, which keeps you full and satisfied for longer," Morosini says. "They are nutrient-dense too, which can reduce cravings and keep you calm and in control of yourself, especially when the next temptation hits."

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Skip the Lollies and Go for Cheese

Everyone loves a good lollypop - especially candy canes - during the holidays. "Lollies will never ever fill you up. No matter how many you consume, you'll never be 'full,'" James says. "So opt for another party snack such as cheese. Cheese is full of fat and will fill you up - so you won't gorge on it for too long."

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Eat Protein-Dense Foods

Going for a second plate? Make sure to eat protein-dense foods. "Filling up on high-protein foods such as good quality meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu and legumes can help you feel fuller quicker," Morosini says. "They also help to regulate the way your body uses sugar so you are satisfied for longer and not looking for more food soon after."

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Don't Deny Yourself Your Cravings

Is there are particular food that you can't wait to eat? Don't deny yourself. Doing so will only cause you to crave it more, which will turn into you eating a larger portion of it later.

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Distract Yourself

Socialize with your friends and loved ones. Keep distracted in conversation by focusing on the people around you and not the food. The holidays are about bringing people together so take advantage of this and really engage with those around you. Finding joy in the little things is just one of the ways to live a more peaceful life.

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