Smart Strategies for Holiday Season: How to Avoid Overeating
As festive feasts grace our tables, it’s crucial to be mindful of pacing ourselves during this season to gift our hearts a healthy holiday. Overindulgence not only leads to short-term discomfort like heartburn but also poses long-term risks such as unhealthy weight gain and obesity, major contributors to heart disease and heart attacks according to the American Heart Association. A study in Clinical Research in Cardiology even pinpointed a peak in cardiac-related hospital admissions during the holiday season, with overeating identified as a significant trigger.
Dr. Amnon Beniaminovitz, a cardiologist with Manhattan Cardiology, likens binge eating to stress on the body, similar to emotional outbursts or strenuous physical activities. Sonia Tolani, MD, from Columbia University Medical Center, emphasizes that the consequences of overeating extend beyond the holiday season, potentially leading to conditions like type 2 diabetes—a substantial risk factor for heart disease, especially in women.
Beyond heart-related risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underscores that being overweight increases susceptibility to various conditions such as stroke, osteoarthritis, depression, and anxiety.
Here are five cardiologist-approved tips to navigate the holiday season without succumbing to overeating:
1. Stick to a Routine
Maintain a strict diet and exercise regimen, sticking to regular meal times to avoid holiday gluttony. If holiday meals disrupt your routine, eat a healthy breakfast, bring a nutritious snack, and consider a post-meal walk.
2. Avoid Foods With Saturated Fat
Steer clear of high-fat and dairy-rich foods. Opt for heart-healthy alternatives like lean proteins, fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber whole grains. Limit indulgences to a quarter of your plate.
3. Take Your Time
Slow down and chew your food well. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness. Put your fork down between bites, and consider drinking water to pace yourself.
4. Plan Ahead
Have a strategy before attending holiday gatherings, such as eating a healthy snack before arriving, staying hydrated, or planning to enjoy small portions of your favorite treats. Stick to your plan.
5. Focus on the Company
Shift your focus from food to the company of friends and family. Engage in conversations between bites, helping you eat less and savor the joy of the season with loved ones.