We’ve all had those days when we feel endlessly hungry and no matter what we eat, it’s not enough, especially around the holidays. When the weather is cold and all you crave is comfort food, eating responsibly can be a seemingly insurmountable feat. And, it goes without saying, holiday spreads only worsen that inevitable urge. But, the holidays don’t have to mean unbridled indulgence. Here are some tips to help prevent overeating and make you feel more satiated:
1. BARE THE BITTER
Tickle your taste buds with bitter flavors, which can often help to cut through cravings for sweets. Fermented dishes like sauerkraut and kimchi are great ways to bring in bitter flavors with an appealing, balanced tartness.
2. EAT MORE!
So many people don’t eat all day, and then overeat at night. It’s something I hear so often working with my patients. Don’t go down that road! Even if you’re busy, you need to make it a priority to eat. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a mistake to restrict your eating so much that it will backfire later in the day. Even if you go for something quick and easy, make sure to fit in small meals throughout the day. For example, protein shakes are an easy breakfast. At the least, a quick bowl of soup makes a great lunch. When you’re at work, keep snacks at your desk. Small things like trail mix or nuts will give you a boost in the afternoon.
3. …AND EAT WHOLE
Our bodies recognize whole foods as real food—meaning you’ll stay full and nourished longer. Whole foods are full of vitamins and minerals that help us feel satiated. When you eat processed foods that are full of chemicals, your body gets confused and stays hungry because it’s still searching for nutrients. Remember: the shorter and simpler the ingredient list, the better!
4. DON’T BE AFRAID OF (HEALTHY) FAT
Healthy fats in ingredients like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter, coconut butter, grass-fed butter, salmon, sardines, and nuts and seeds are great for satiety. And, don’t rule out dairy. Full-fat yogurt and goat cheese are good to incorporate in your diet in moderation. Olive oil on a salad will help you absorb more nutrients from your leafy greens. As Dr. Frank Lipman always says, “Fat doesn’t make you fat! Sugar makes you fat.”
5. FILL UP ON FIBER
Fill your plate with lots of vegetables, and think of everything else—protein, grains, fats—as your condiments. Eat a high volume of fiber-packed veggies and you will feel more satisfied. Another trick I’ve discovered is to add a LOT of chia seeds to your morning smoothie. I add anywhere from ⅛ to ¼ of a cup of chia seeds, which are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. This makes me feel full all the way through the morning, and helps digestion too.
It’s surprisingly easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water will keep you energized, and you won’t be so quick to look to food for a midday burst of energy. I recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking 70 ounces of water (just over a half gallon).
7. IDENTIFY TRIGGER FOODS
We all have certain foods that can set off a bout of overeating. It may be a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a jar of almond butter, a jar of salted nuts, a bag of Tostitos, or even cereal. Often these foods have both high salt and sugar contents, making them irresistible. It’s good to get real about which foods you always overeat. You don’t have to abstain indefinitely. But, you might be better off not keeping them in the house for a while.
8. TAKE A BREAK FROM BOOZE
I often hear from patients at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center that drinking alcohol is closely linked with overeating. This is why people benefit so much from doing a 2-Week Cleanse. They take a break from drinking alcohol and become more conscious of their food choices. And, cutting back on carb-ridden alcohol helps in achieving weight loss, taking the pressure off of paring down your diet.
9. EAT LIKE ALL EYES ARE ON YOU
Geneen Roth, an expert on compulsive eating and perpetual dieting and author of Women, Food and God, offers this guideline: eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others. It’s a good reminder that we eat differently when we’re alone, versus when we’re with others. If you make a practice of eating as if you’re in full view of others, you may make better choices about what and when you eat. And, it helps keep your hand out of the cookie jar!
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