Last week I was talking to my roommate about the holidays the insane amounts of food people prepare and eat during this time of year. I was telling her about my first “Friendsgiving” in the US back in 2008, when the couple in charge of making the dessert got carried away and brought fifteen pies because they couldn’t decide what recipe to try so they made them all.
As we kept talking, we both realized that each of us, in our own way, has gotten to a point in our lives where we don’t overeat past the point of satisfaction anymore, the way so many people do during these celebrations. However, both having suffered from eating disorders and a compulsive relationship to food, we can definitely relate to that feeling of eating anxiously and feeling unable to stop. There are many different reasons that have gotten me to the point in my life where I’m able to stop eating when I’m full, and many of them are biological rather than by choice (for example, if I eat too much or too late I get acid reflux). Others, however, I practice intentionally.
Last year I shared some of my favorite tips to stay sane around food during this season of overindulgence. Here are a few more so you can be even better equipped this year to handle this very real problem.
Don’t stand or sit right next to the food. Staying right beside the food is pretty much a 100% successful recipe for overeating. The food will be at the reach of your hand at all times, too tempting to not keep grabbing it and putting it in your mouth. This is especially true if social situations make you slightly uncomfortable and you need to be doing something with your hands or mouth to feel more relaxed (a big reason why people smoke too!). Instead, grab a glass of water (with ice if you really need to chew on something), and get as far away from the food as you can at all times.
Don’t go with an empty stomach. Yes, you know there will be a lot of delicious food and you want to make space for it, but skipping a meal or being super hungry when you get there will very likely push you to binge by eating desperately and mindlessly. A much better idea is to eat a healthy, satisfying meal beforehand. If your celebration is at lunchtime, have a big fruit salad and a rich smoothie for breakfast, for example. If the celebration is at night, have a huge salad with some brown rice or quinoa for lunch. Eat until you’re completely satisfied, knowing that by the time you get to the big meal of the day you will be hungry again, but not starved and ready to attack anything that looks edible.
Chew your food and eat as slowly as possible. This one is tricky but it makes a big difference. Chewing not only helps you digest food better but gives your stomach enough time to tell your brain that it’s full. When we eat in a hurry we don’t get these signals on time, and we end up overeating, sometimes to the point of making us physically unwell. My favorite way of making sure I chew my meals in social situations is by asking the person I’m talking to several open ended questions. This way I know that person will be talking for a while, and that gives me enough time to chew my food thoroughly instead of talking back and forth the whole time and having to chew quickly to keep the conversation going.
Wear tight clothes. This one sounds (and is) kinda silly, but it works! Let’s be real here, we all know that if we are wearing something very loose that hides a full belly and any accompanying bloating we are much more prone to overeat than if we wear something tight that shows every extra spoonful of mashed potatoes we savour. So if will power is not your strength, help yourself by wearing a tight fitting dress that will force you to practice at least some restriction. You may regret it while you’re there wishing you could have three extra portions of dessert, but trust me when I say you’ll be thankful the next day.
Morena Escardó is a bilingual health & wellness coach and author. You can get all her healthy tips on her website.