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Practical Holiday Eating Advice

The holidays are here, along with all the holiday parties and foods that go with them. Although this is not the time to start working on your diet, you want to ensure that you don't overdo it either. Remember, the more food you eat during the holidays, it does not mean the more fun you have.

Below I have my top 4 Holiday Eating Advice. Don't worry, my advice will not be to go low fat, or to find alternatives to cakes and sweets. There is nothing wrong with having cakes and sweets every so often. They only become a problem when you start having them all the time.

Holiday Eating Advice #1: If you know you will be going to a party with a lot of food, go to the party hungry.

You should not follow anybody's advice without knowing the reasons behind the recommendations. For that reason, I would like to explain why you should be going hungry to parties. I know many nutritionists advise the opposite, to eat before you go to the party, so you will not be too hungry and be able to control yourself better and not overeat. In theory, that sounds good; in reality it does not work.

Regardless of whether they are hungry, people will eat when they go to parties with lots of food. So, if you eat before you go and eat again at the party, you will make things worse. But if you go to the party with an empty stomach, even if you overeat, it will be better because most of the food you ate was needed. Of course, the ideal thing to do is to stop eating when you are no longer hungry, but I know that is hard to do, but try anyway.

Personally, when I go to parties, I always go extra hungry, and I enjoy my food while I am there guilt-free. If I overeat a little, so what? Overeating once in a while, there is no harm done; the problem is when you overeat every day.

Of course, if you have satisfied your hunger try to stop eating. Remember, the more food you eat does not mean the more fun you have.

Holidays Eating Advice #2: When you go to a party or family event where they serve the food buffet or family style, put on your plate half of the food you think you can eat

If you follow my previous advice, you should be going to your parties hungry, and of course, when you are hungry, you tend to put more food on your plate than you need to eat. For that reason, if you are serving yourself whatever amount of food you think you can eat, put half of that amount on your plate. Remind yourself that you can always get up and get more food if you want more.

I do not know of buffet-style parties that allow people to go through the buffet only once! Grab a smaller plate to help you take less food if you have a choice. If a smaller plate isn't available the first time you go up, fill half of your plate with salad so there is little room for anything else.

So many times at buffets, I see people pile food on their plates like they will not be allowed to go back. Besides, when you pile up all the food on top of each other, you can't even taste each individual food.

Personally, when I go to a party where they serve food buffet style, the first time I go through the buffet, I get a salad and some vegetables. I eat that first; then, I return to get my meat, starch, and more vegetables. By eating my salad first and then waiting a little bit, I do not overeat.

The problem with putting too much food on your plate is that you feel obligated to eat it even if you feel full. Not eating all the food on your plate is almost an insult to the host, especially if you are the one that puts the food on your plate.

If the party is a sit-down dinner and somebody serves me, I do not feel obligated to eat the food because the person that served me does not know how much I need to eat. I pay attention to my hunger, and if I feel satisfied, I stop eating and explain to the host that the food is great, but I am full and can't eat any more or would like to leave room for dessert.

Holiday Eating Advice #3: Eat Slowly, Mindfully and Chew Your Food Well

When you go to parties where there will be food, keep in mind that no one will take your food away, and there is always enough food for everyone, so eat your food slowly and mindfully, and don't forget to chew it before you swallow it. Try to taste what you are eating.

Why is it important to eat slowly, mindfully, and chew your food well?

This habit alone can help you lose weight and aid your digestion. As you might already know, digestion begins in the mouth through the mechanical process of chewing food. The benefit of chewing your food well is that you break it down into smaller pieces, so the digestive juices have more surface to work on. Also, the saliva will begin to break down the starches in your food.

Another benefit of chewing your food well is that you taste what you eat. You will find that processed food will taste less good because you will be able to taste all the additives in the food. You will begin to appreciate natural foods better when you really get to taste them.

Another benefit of eating slowly, mindfully, and chewing your food well is that you will end up eating less food.

Studies have shown that people who eat more slowly eat less than people who eat faster. Here are a couple of reasons why most people eat less when they eat slowly. One reason is by eating more slowly, you give your brain a chance to register that you are full. It takes up to 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. It takes that long because the signal comes from the intestines, not the stomach, and it takes time for food to get to the intestines. Additionally, by eating slowly and more mindfully, you'll feel more satisfied by the end of the meal, so you'll be less likely to ask for seconds.

Let me tell you a story my friend Jim told me, which perfectly illustrates my point. Jim and his family had gone out to a restaurant to eat. That particular day, everybody was really hungry. Although the food was great, the service could have been better.

First came the appetizers. After Jim and his family had finished their appetizers, the server took 20 minutes to bring their salads. After they had finished their salads, the server didn't bring their entrées for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Although everybody was very hungry when they first got to the restaurant, by the time the entrées came, everybody was full from having eaten only an appetizer and a salad. Usually, Jim said, he and his family could eat the appetizer, the salad, and the entrée with no problem.

By simply waiting for a little longer (even though it wasn't by choice), they felt full after eating less food. So you see, simply by eating more slowly, your brain can get the message that you have had enough food and are satisfied, allowing you to eat less and lose weight.

Here are few suggestions to help you develop this habit

1. Put down your fork between bites.

2. Keep your FPM 3 and under. FPM stands for "Forks Per Minute"; in other words, how many times you put food in your mouth per minute.

3. Be mindful of chewing your food. You can even count the number of times you chewed your food before swallowing. I recommend at least 20 times. While chewing, try to taste the food, all of its spices and flavors.

4. If you're eating a sandwich, always put it down between bites.

5. Every time you put food in your mouth, break your attention from the person you are talking to for a few seconds and pay attention to the taste and texture of the food you are eating.

Holiday Eating Advice #4: The holidays should not be used as a license to eat.

The holidays should not be used as a license to eat. On the other hand, it is not the time to start working on your eating habits either. So, during the holidays, enjoy yourself, have fun, and if you happen to overeat a little, don't worry about it. But once the holidays are over, commit yourself to start improving your eating habits, and the best way to do this is one habit at a time.

There are many reasons why most diets fail, but one reason is that they expect people to change all their eating habits at once. No matter the results you get, chances are you will burn out when you make too many changes in your life all at once.

If you are interested in learning more about losing weight and keeping it off for life, register for my upcoming Webinar on "How to Lose Weight So It Stays Off For Life". The date has yet to be set, but I will be early January 2023. If you are interested in attending, email and put "Webinar" in the subject line. You will get an email as soon as the date is set.

Happy Holidays

Stavros Mastrogiannis

Sustainable Weight Loss Coach

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