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9 Ways to Help You Avoid Overeating on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is coming up, and so are all the other holidays; if you’re like me then you eat a lot during this time of year. (And, I mean a lot a lot.)
I can’t remember a year in December when I didn’t have to make extra batches of cookies because the ones I made wouldn’t make it to Christmas; oops.
Luckily, for me, I don’t have a problem with overeating during Thanksgiving; I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 20 years. But, I know for many people, they eat to their hearts content this day; which is far past feeling full.
I’m gonna say it now, there’s nothing wrong with overeating one day a year. It’s perfectly fine and normal.
Even our ancestors who were hunters and gatherers would do this. That’s where the phrase ‘feast or famine’ came about. So, if you pig out on this day, no problem, chances are you won’t even gain an ounce from it. The problem with overeating is if it starts to become the ‘norm’ for you.
**Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian or a professional nutritionist. I am simply passionate about health and nutrition. I studied a little bit of nutrition in college and have been learning outside of college ever since, and I specialized in eating disorders my last year of college before graduating with a bachelors degree in psychology.
If you don’t want to overeat this Thanksgiving, due to any reason you have come up with; then let me at least give you a few helpful tips. These tips will help you avoid overeating, but also make sure you can still enjoy your Thanksgiving ‘feast’.
1. Grab a smaller plate
This is a psychological trick to make you take a smaller amount of food. And, it works, for the most part.
If you want to see this experiment in action, there’s a documentary currently on Netflix called In Defense of Food which shows how this trick works.
But, the basic concept is that you don’t dish yourself up as much food when you have a smaller plate than if you had a large plate. So, if you’re having a hard time with portion sizes because you feel like you need to fill your entire plate up at Thanksgiving, or in everyday life; go with a smaller plate.
Find summaries of other Health Documentaries available on Netflix HERE.
2. Take a very small portion of everything
This way you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything, or tempted to consume more food because your first plate of food didn’t have room on it for everything you wanted.
Plus, if some of your relatives experimented with some recipes this year, you can still try what they made and eat everything on your plate; and, if you don’t like it, simply don’t take seconds. You can do this with more than just the dinner; do this with the dessert, too. That way you don’t feel deprived of you favorite dessert when you have more than one favorite.
3. Eat normal during the day
If you try to ‘save’ all of your calories for the day for Thanksgiving dinner, then you’re most likely going to eat close to that many calories at dinner, if not more.
The problem with this is that when you try to ‘save’ calories for later in the day it also slows down your metabolism, and you feel starving. (This is when your body will try to go into starvation mode; so if you’re trying to lose weight, doing this may have the reverse effect.)
Don’t be so harsh on your body or mess up your metabolism; it’s worse to do this than to eat normal during the day and then slightly more for your Thanksgiving dinner.
Remember, this ‘feast’ is one day out of the year; it’s not going to make you gain weight if you eat a little bit more than normal. Don’t starve yourself so you can eat more later on; no one likes the feeling of starving. (At least, you shouldn’t like the feeling of starving. If you do enjoy this feeling and do it to yourself on a regular basis; please seek professional help.)
4. Drink more water
The more water you drink, the more full you will get.
The signals your body sends you when you’re dehydrate, or even just thirsty, can sometimes be misread as hunger.
Sometimes when this happens and you try to fix the problem with eating, you can’t, so you continue to eat until the signal goes away. And, eventually it will because many type of foods contain water in them, like fruits and veggies.
Make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid overeating. Drink a cup of water before the meal and keep sipping water all throughout the day, especially during your ‘feast’. This will help prevent you from overeating.
(But, I’m also the type of person known to carry their water bottle with them everywhere; so, I may be a little biased when it comes to the many benefits of drinking plenty of water.)
5. Fill your plate like you do for your children
You’re most likely to fill your children’s plates with plenty of healthy options for them to choose from; in a child sized Thanksgiving portion. This is a larger portion of food than what they’re used to, but not so much that they’ll have a food coma afterwards. And, you maybe allow them to choose one dessert after dinner.
Try using the same portion size for yourself; a child’s Thanksgiving portion size, with one dessert after.
It’ll be enough to fill you up, but not make you feel stuffed, and not even close to a food coma.
(Though, a food coma tends to come about from the turkey you eat rather than the amount of food you consume. Turkey, and some other foods, contain tryptophan which increases the production of melatonin. Or, if you wanted to explain this to your child; eating a lot of turkey can help them be sleepy. Some carbohydrates and other types of proteins can do this, as well. Like milk and bananas combined.)
6. Play games afterwards
Or, have something else planned for after Thanksgiving dinner so you have a reason to not stay at the table til the night is over.
If you simply stay at the table all night talking, you’re more likely to continue eating all night, as well. So, even if you don’t plan anything for after dinner, at least try to get up and move to another room so you’re not tempted to continue eating.
Don’t forget to help pack up the leftover before they go bad. Just because you’re not eating it all now, doesn’t mean it should go to waste.
7. Keep the serving dishes off the table
If hosting, have the serving dishes away from the table, if not hosting try to suggest it.
This was always how Thanksgiving was when I was growing up, for the most part. There were small side dishes at the table, like the cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes. But, everything else was either on another table in another room, or on counters or an island in the kitchen.
This makes you think twice before getting up for seconds; you’ll lose time chatting with friends and family, and everyone will notice if you left for more food.
Plus, you’d have to get up.
When I was growing up, I didn’t want to bring attention on myself, so I usually wouldn’t get up for seconds (until dessert).
8. Be mindful when you’re eating
You’ve probably heard this before; when you eat mindlessly, you eat more.
Guess what, it’s true.
Have you ever been watching a show, or on your computer with a drink, or food, next to you and you go to have another sip, or bite, and there’s nothing left?
I have, and I hate that feeling because I thought I had some left and I’m so disappointed when I don’t.
That feeling is the result of mindless eating; you don’t even realize that you’re eating as much as you are. Though, I’m usually drinking coffee mindlessly most of the time, it’s just as bad, if not worse, with food. You’re still hungry because your mind didn’t grasp that you were eating because you were doing something else.
Simply, pay attention to what you’re eating and how it tastes.
What’s the texture like? Is it sweet or savory?
Does it have a flavor in it you don’t recognize?
If you think of these things while you eat, it will help you to stop eating mindlessly. You can also give better compliments to whomever made the homemade dish you just enjoyed.
Maybe you’ll even ask for the recipe!
9. Remember there will be leftovers
Leftovers are great, aren’t they?
I know some people aren’t fans of huge leftovers and food goes bad before they can get to it.
But, when it comes to Thanksgiving leftovers, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy them. Some people may even go crazy over them. Ever see the episode of Friends when Ross’s leftover Thanksgiving sandwich was stolen, and half of it was thrown out, by one of his co-workers?
Of course, there are always some foods, like the homemade applesauce, that will never be placed in a container as a leftover, but there are many other delicious dishes that will.
If you don’t stuff your face during Thanksgiving, these leftovers could last you a week.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful to not have to go grocery shopping for a week after Thanksgiving?
Especially when you spent a whole weeks worth of grocery money, or more, on Thanksgiving dinner.
Don’t overeat, if that’s what you want
I hope you enjoyed and found my tips for reducing overeating helpful.
I hope some of these you already know, but I also hope you learned something, as well. Like I said, I’ve never really over ate during Thanksgiving because I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, but I’ve also used many of these tips myself, without even realizing it.
And again, if you accidentally overeat this Thanksgiving; don’t worry about it.
I don’t know of a single person who has gained weight from overeating at a single meal. Our ancestors use to have ‘feast’ or ‘famine’, and if you want to use that as your excuse to eat to your heart’s content this Thanksgiving, go for it (unless you have a medical condition in which you shouldn’t).
Share this, or pin it on pinterest, if you found it interesting or helpful. You may want to read it over again next year!!