How to Avoid Overeating this Holiday Season
The Holiday season is a special time for many people across the world – festivity, fun, and goodwill are all heavily on the agenda and with it comes good food!
Why Do We Overeat?
The truth is, we do have a tendency to eat more in the winter and there are several contributing factors to this.
The first is that the cold weather naturally stimulates our need for survival. In the past, our ancestors would rely on the Autumn harvest to see them through winter; food could be scarce and this triggered a mass need to store and ration. Therefore, the desire to eat more during the cold months could be buried deep within our biological make-up.
Warmth & Comfort
Then there is the issue of food keeping us warm. When the cold weather hits, our body temperature drops and this may explain why we feel a need to eat more. It’s not much different from the way animals in the wild prepare for hibernation. All this extra food means more energy – the downside to this is that we tend to crave foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates.
If we are moving very little (which is often the case as the cold weather makes us feel like we should stay indoors more) then it is not difficult to see why we end up piling on the extra pounds.
Mental Health & Serotonin
The cold weather can have a powerful effect on our emotions too. The winter season can bring about the ‘winter blues’ which in some cases leads to Seasonal Affective Disorder. The drop of serotonin in the body can lead to ‘comfort eating’ where we substitute our lack of happiness levels for foods high in sugar and fat.
So, as you can see, it’s not just the delicious Christmas foods that can lead us to over-indulge – there are a host of factors involved!
How Can We Prevent Overeating?
Our tendency to eat too much over the Christmas season doesn’t mean we actually have to do it. As with many things, we have free will and willpower. If we want to stay healthy and eat in moderation during the winter months, we can do it. Below are some tips as to how not to overeat during the cold season.
Eat Healthier Versions of Comfort Foods
Preparation is everything. We know winter is coming and therefore it is best to stock up on foods we know are good for us, rather than cave into indulgence at the time. Substitutes for junk foods are all around us.
Yummy homemade soups and stews packed with plenty of vegetables and nutrients can fill our bellies and leave us feeling guilt-free, as well as keep us warm! We can make our own potato chips rather than scoff store-bought chips; slicing a couple of potatoes into thin pieces and then drizzling with avocado or extra virgin olive oil, before popping into the oven for twenty minutes, is a great way to ensure a batch of snacks you can munch on whenever those winter blues hit you!
Bookmark this Recipe: Feed Your Body Friday: 3 Fall Soup Recipes
Get Enough Vitamin D
The lack of sunlight in winter months leads to a lack of Vitamin D, so it’s important we supplement ourselves with this crucial vitamin during wintertime. We can take Vitamin D supplements, go outside when the sun is shining, and eat foods rich in it such as fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks.
The boost of Vitamin D will help prevent comfort eating and help maintain healthy weight levels.
In fact, exercise every day or at least five times a week. It may not prevent over-eating, but it will help burn extra calories in case you do find yourself slipping. Exercise can also help boost your serotonin levels, which in turn can keep your mood up and make you less inclined to snack on the junk stuff.
Keep a Diary
During the winter season, you may want to keep a diary of your consumption. You can set goals for yourself throughout the day and give yourself a “reward” at the end of each week if you have managed to meet your targets.
You may already keep a diary throughout the rest of the year, but during winter, a food diary can be even more helpful than usual.
Keep an Eye on Alcohol Intake
The Christmas season is a time for merriment! However, this can often lead to more consumption of alcohol. Alcohol can send the pounds straight to your middle and, what’s more, it is terrible for your moods once the initial buzz has worn off (or, for some people, it can make a low mood even worse under the influence).
Enjoy a drink or two but do so in moderation.
The Christmas season is a time to be merry, to enjoy with friends and family, and to spread goodwill and cheer. To keep this merriness in the air, we can help ourselves by eating well, exercising and being careful not to overindulge.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, so let’s keep it that way!