Thanksgiving, the beginning of the official season of friends, family and overeating is a little over a week away. People unnecessarily fret the foods on turkey day. A yearlong nutritious diet is not sabotaged by one meal. The important foods, the ones that build the foundation of good health, are those that are eaten the other 364 days. Don’t use the excuse of one big turkey meal to eat with abandon until after New Year.
The following holiday tips do not forbid any foods — they are strategies to keep you from entering a food coma. In fact if you spend the year dreaming of sweet potatoes with a marshmallow topping, then go ahead and enjoy them. Denial could lead to overeating other foods as compensation.
1. Stay mindful. Enjoy the appearance and aroma of the food before making your dining choices. Focus on chewing and savoring the flavor of every mouthful. Eat what you love and don’t feel pressure to finish when full.
2. Start a meal with salad. This boosts intake of healthy vegetables and leads to satiation with a reasonable amount of food.
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3. Wear clothes that fit. This way, there will be a physical nudge to bring awareness of overeating.
4. Don’t multi-task at mealtime. Stop eating when having a dinner conversation. And it is not pleasant to be conversing with someone with a full mouth of food. Enjoying the company of those around you is a great way to slow down eating and allow the message of fullness to travel from your stomach to your brain.
5. When at a buffet, step away from the food and snack bowls. Fill you plate and find your spot. Standing near the food leads to mindless munching.
6. Watch the beverages. Not only do mixed drinks have calories they are known to replace common sense with a sense of abandon. Have a club soda with a twist between the cocktails.
7. Eat a light snack before an event. Going to a party starving is a path to overeating.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.