The holiday season is approaching and soon we will be swept up in the revolving door of office parties, cookie swaps, and potluck dinners. With Thanksgiving as the kickoff event, it is time to talk portion control, now, more than ever. We can easily get caught up in the ceremony of over eating because it’s “that time of year” and “resolutions don’t start until January.” However, your body does not differentiate between pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie in March. Either way you will suffer from all the same symptoms of overeating: fatigue, bloating, and acid reflux.
When we overeat, our body sends a majority of its resources to the digestive system. This results in feelings of fatigue and lethargy. Soon we start to feel the need unbutton our pants and stretch to create room for the gas that is slowly building up in the intestines. With a large volume of food in the stomach, pressure is placed on the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause the contents of the stomach to escape into the esophagus resulting in acid reflux. Lastly, when consuming a large meal, particularly with lots of sugar, yes, I’m looking at that roasted marshmallow sweet potato casserole, we experience a spike in insulin. Insulin causes our cells to pull glucose out of the bloodstream, which results in low blood sugar and the classic crash. So how can we prevent the chronic holiday food coma?
- Fill up on colorful vegetables. By filling your plate with 80% vegetables, you will be less likely to experience the blood sugar crash. Additionally, the fiber will increase satiety leaving you less inclined to grab a second serving of mashed potatoes.
- Use a smaller plate. Large dinner plates give us the illusion that we are not taking as much as we think. Using a smaller size can help us keep portions more accurate.
- Take one portion at a time. Using your hand as a guide, stick to one measured portion of each dish. For meat, 3 oz is roughly the size of your palm, for grains 1 cup is roughly the size of your fist, and for fats and oils, 1 tbs is roughly the size of your thumb.
- Take your time. Aim for 20-30 chews and place your fork down between bites. This helps to slow consumption and give your body more time to recognize fullness cues.
- Eat before the party. If you are headed out to another office party and know it will be another loop of bacon wrapped scallops, shrimp, and puff pastries, try eating beforehand. This should help curve impulse snacking and poor decisions due to hunger.
- Don’t drink your calories. Each glass of wine has roughly 120 calories and beer has 150. Adding these beverages on top of endless appetizers could put you over your caloric budget before dinner even starts. Try alternating between drinks and water to keep hydration up and calories down.
Give yourself the best gift this holiday season- feeling good. Clean eating not only makes us feel better, but we look better, and sleep better too! There are a lot of temptations this time of year, but before diving into the endless rotation of party foods, ask yourself will this make me feel good? If not, it is time to make a different choice because each time you put food on your plate and in your mouth, you are given the opportunity to influence the health of your body, so why not make a good choice?! Remember, nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!
By Charlotte LaGuardia