5 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Overindulgence

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I feel like, all in all, I did a good job with my food choices for the day. It was Thanksgiving, so I figured that I'd sample a little bit of everything, in moderation, and keep the portion sizes small instead of frustrating myself by sitting at the table with a salad while everybody else ate normally.

It's not that I don't love salads, because I crave salads the way that some people crave cake or pie, but there's so much social pressure to eat a lot at the holidays.

I don't know about you, but my Facebook feed is pretty full of people talking about how stuffed they were after the holiday was over. 

When did gluttony become so socially acceptable? And why is it that, at the holidays, gluttony is expected of celebrants? 

I couldn't opt out: This was the first Thanksgiving that I got to really spend with my family in the past twelve years. I've been doing well with eating right, though, and even if I've not been getting as much exercise as I should, I've still managed to drop 40 lbs (and counting). 

It's difficult to avoid gaining weight at the holidays due to the enormity of the holiday feasts.
The spread is always so tempting, and it's hard not to overeat at a feast!
My strategy was to take a little bit of everything on the table. My sister is an amazing cook, and she was the one who hosted Thanksgiving dinner (at our parents' house). I've never tried anything she's cooked that I didn't like. This was going to be a challenge, in particular, because of my mother's Death by Potatoes and my husband's creamed potatoes (his own mother's recipe). 

I'm on a low-fat diet because of gallstones and pancreatic issues, so I knew I had to be particularly careful with any and all dishes that included high-fat ingredients. I elected for a small portion of white-meat turkey, one spoon of stuffing, one spoon of my sister's amazing sweet potatoes, and two scoops of my husband's creamed potatoes. (In the picture below, I had also included my mother's Death by Potatoes, but too much came off on the spoon and I didn't ear nearly all of what was there).

I stopped when I was no longer hungry. This is getting easier for me just in the past month or so, because my brain is sending the body signals when I've had enough to eat.

Unlike some people, I hate the feeling of being full, but often it comes only after I've gone too far. The key, I've found, is to slow down when eating.

This was my Thanksgiving Plate. I didn't finish it and I didn't go back for more!
This was my thanksgiving plate. I didn't finish all of it, and I didn't go back for more. 
I'm not an expert at this -- yet -- but I started this blog so that I could share with other people what my process is and how I'm doing all of it. It's going to take a long time for me to reach my goal weight (after all, it's about 170 more pounds to lose!), but my readers are going to keep me accountable, right?

I hope so!

Anyway, these are the things that I did yesterday (Thanksgiving) to help avoid over-eating. Right now my own process involves eating less more than it does moving more -- but I'm getting there!

5 Tips for avoiding Holiday Overindulgences
These are my five tips for avoiding holiday overindulgences!

1. Be Prepared

Go into the holiday meals with an understanding that there's going to be a lot of food and that most of it's going to be particularly rich food. Don't try to deny the situation and pretend that it's going to be easier than it is. 

I've found that if I tell myself that something is going to be difficult, I find it easier to cope with. Four natural childbirths and quitting smoking have taught me that this strategy generally works for me. It might also work for you: It seems to for many women.

You know your family (or whoever you're spending your holidays with) better than I do, so you should be able to prepare yourself for the typical holiday fare with the people you spend the holidays with. 

Alternatively, if you're uncomfortable letting someone else control the menu, have your holiday meal at home with your own family, and prepare something you're comfortable with.

I like to eat with family because no matter how healthy I choose to eat, my husband prefers higher calorie, higher fat foods that leave me at a loss for healthier options. If there's going to be unhealthy food on the table, I might as well spend the holidays with family and friends!

2. Tell Your Friends and Family

I realize that not every family is as supportive as mine is, but I still believe that you should inform your feasting companions of what your plans are before you sit down for the meal. That way everyone goes into it with the same expectations and you (hopefully) don't get as many questions about what you're eating as you might if you didn't say anything.

Beside which, they can't support you if they don't know that you're working on your nutrition. 

Be prepared for friends and family to argue the nutritional value of the food that you're eating. Many of the foods we eat at holidays are nutritious, if eaten in moderation, and depending on your nutrition plan (note that I didn't say "diet" because the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

At the end of the day, you have to make the decision for how to feed yourself, but I chose to make the most of this Thanksgiving by eating a little bit of everything.

3. Eat before Dinner

Try eating something (healthy) before leaving for your holiday meal with your family or friends, and make sure that it's filling enough that you don't reach the meal hungry. If you're not hungry (and you pay attention to your body's signals), you'll eat less and you're less likely to over eat. 

My strategy for the holidays is (as I've said) to eat well and in moderation rather than to avoid the holiday meals altogether, so this works well for me. 

A snack that's high in protein will help to keep you naturally full and help you to avoid eating more than necessary at the holiday feast. 

I had an egg.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

I failed at this one, I'm afraid, but I'll be following it at Christmas.

Drinking water helps to fill you up because much of the time if you're hungry, you're actually craving water and you need to hydrate. In addition, drinking water will help you to avoid other holiday drinks such as beer, liquor, wine, or soda. It's better for you, more satisfying, and will help you to avoid stress and headaches.

In fact, you probably ought to drink plenty of water every day.

5. Taste, Don't Feast

I believe that moderation is the best way to lose weight, because it allows us to indulge in some of the things that we love while weaning ourselves off of the things we shouldn't be eating. Even when I quit smoking (which led to 70 pound weight gain!), I eased myself off of the cigarettes a bit at a time by breaking bad habits. There's nothing wrong with moderation, especially in the beginning!

If you can't avoid eating everything (for whatever reason, but often because you don't want to offend the cook), take a little bit of everything and just taste

This has worked amazingly well for me, because I can indulge in food visually. It's tougher if I can smell it, but I love Pinterest for looking at awesome foods without having to eat them. Check out my boards for some beautiful food photos (and the recipes that go with them!).

5 Ways to Avoid Holiday Overindulgence
Be sure to pin this post so others can find it, too!

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