We are all quilty of it - overeating around Christmas and the holidays seems to be part of the tradition. But what if you broke this tradition this year so you don´t feel that guilt going into the new year?
Tops tips to help you make healthier eating choices this Christmas:
1) Use a smaller plate
Reading this, you may be thinking but that won´t stop me from going for seconds and thirds. You may be right about this but the research shows otherwise. Research shows that the plate size has a significant effect on the initial amount of food that one puts on the plate, the level of satisfaction and the overall calorie intake (1).
People will naturally serve themselves less food when using a smaller plate. Smaller plates also have a higher level of satiation with lower total calorie intake, therefore, indicating fewer helpings (2). This method is particulary useful if there are only small plates available on the table to not draw attention to the possibilty of having a larger helping.
2) Limit your snacking
This mainly refers to snacking when cooking and before the main meal. Try to avoid eating from the pots and bowls while the food is being cooked. People always underestimate how much they eat whilst cooking!
3) Drink water throughout the day
Swop out the sugar-filled fruit juice and sodas for water. This may sound super boring but you can spice up your water by infusing it with fruits such as berries, lemons or cucumber pieces! Have these on the table to make them easily accessible.
4) Have half of your usual portion of pudding
This might sound like a tragedy but not having any pudding is worse! Most of the time, satisfying that sweet craving is possible with one or two bites of something sweet, we just over-indulge. Sharing your pudding with someone also helps reduce your overall intake without being restrictive.
5) Don´t sit in front of the food
Sitting infront of the food or in front of an empty plate creates temptation to eat more and more without being consciously aware of how much you are eating. This is especially true when in a festive environment with alcohol. By placing the food on a seperate table away from where people are sitting you are reducing the temptation to eat just because it tastes good or eating without awareness.
6) Eat slowly & chew your food
Many people rush through their food without consciously enjoying it. This doesn´t give your mind time to mindfully indentify when you are full or satisfied, which hits you a little while later often making you feel sluggish and tired. Eating slower by placing your knife and fork down between bites, ensures you chew your food to aid efficient digestion and avoid the sluggish feeling after eating
7) Set the mood with lights & calming music
Setting an environment for eating is highly overlooked when it comes to mindful eating (e.g. being aware of what and how you eat). Your environment can either cause stress/ anxiety or it can set a relaxing tone. The Danish are well known for their term `hygge` meaning a cozy environment that makes a person feel content and comfortable.
This is the exact feeling one should have when eating a meal to be mindful and aware of what and how you eat. Create the ultimate mood with candles,warm lighting and good calming music.
8) Be active
Just because it´s Christmas and the holidays doesn´t mean you have to lie on the coach all day! Go for a walk after your meal with your family or go for your usual group ride before the festivities begin. Walking after eating can help speed up digestion and reduce the ´food coma´ effect after a big meal.
If you can´t follow this advice I´ll be posting a follow-up after New years to help you get back on track! So keep your eyes peeled!
Holden S.S., Zlatevska N., Dubelaar C., (2016). Whether smaller plates reduce consumption depends on who’s serving and who’s looking: A meta-analysis. J. Assoc. Consum. Res. 1(1).
Peng M. (2017). How does plate size affect estimated satiation and intake for individuals in normal-weight and overweight groups?. Obesity science & practice, 3(3), 282–288.