press release
Published: 20 December 2019

Seven tips to avoid overeating this festive season

Trolleys are being filled and bank balances are being emptied as we prepare for the annual onslaught of large tins of chocolate, trays of mince pies, over flowing plates and ever available left overs.  The temptation to over eat will be huge. So what to do?

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Getty Images

The obvious answer is just to give in. Accept this is your lot for Christmas, be kind to yourself, free yourself from guilt, recognise that you have earned a time of celebration and enjoy.  Then start again when the season is over but without the need to beat yourself up!

But if you don’t want to indulge here are some tips from Jane Ogden, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, that should help you manage the temptations around you without creating a stored up sense of deprivation which can only cause problems later:

Don’t buy it: If you are hosting this year don’t buy the foods you don’t want to eat.  It is only 2 days! Nobody needs a year’s supply of chocolate or a month’s worth of mince pies.  Buy enough to feed yourself and your guests but leave the mounds of food you don’t need at the supermarket.  If it is not in the house it is very hard to eat!

Keep it out of sight: Once it is in the house, put it away.  Tin it, bag it or fridge it.  But keep it out of sight to avoid moments of mindless eating.

Eat meals, don’t snack:  Eating at a table, with a plate, knife and fork and calling it a ‘meal’ not a ‘snack’ can fill you up more and make you eat less.  So don’t eat on the sofa, in front of the TV, off the leftovers table or whilst standing talking about the people in the other room.   Have big meals but then tick that box and don’t eat again until the next one comes along.

Fill up the fruit bowl:  But if you do want to snack, satsumas are the way forward so fill up a fruit bowl and tuck in.  I’m convinced that the process of peeling them starts to fill you up before you even start eating!

Fill up your plate with veg: Once its dinner time, don’t deprive yourself whilst everyone else is tucking in as seething resentment will only back fire and result in overeating later.  So eat what they are eating.  And do fill up your plate to overflowing.  BUT you can always be clever in what you pile it up with and go for veg in all their festive glory as much as possible.

Eat earlier in the day: There is increasing evidence that meal time is important.  Eating late can cause weight gain as well as poor sleep (which in turn can lead to overeating).  So eat earlier in the day and reduce the window of eating (from start to finish) as much as possible.

And finally, look after yourself:  Going for walks before and after meals has so many benefits. It burns off calories from the food, lets off steam from the company and helps metabolise the alcohol.  And the fresh air, greenery and space helps you sleep ready for a healthier day tomorrow.

Jane Ogden, Professor in Health Psychology, University of Surrey.  Author of The Psychology of Dieting (Routledge) and The Good Parenting Food Guide (Wiley)

 

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