From Michelle May, M.D.
Are you one of those people who anticipate and dread the holidays at the same time? Not just the presents, decorations, travel and company, but all the food? The holidays can really be a challenge so here are seven tips that will help you enjoy the season more while eating less.
1. It is easier to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and satiety at social gatherings, especially if food is the main event. Make an effort to pay close attention to your body's signals so you don’t end up ruining a great meal by feeling stuffed for the rest of the evening.
2. Think of your appetite as an expense account. How much do you want to spend on appetizers or the entrée? Do you want to save some room for dessert? Go through this process mentally beforehand so you can thoroughly enjoy your favorite parts of the meal.
3. If the food is so special, give it your full attention rather than eating on autopilot. Eat mindfully by reducing distractions and sitting down to eat - even if it’s just a cookie. Appreciate the appearance and aromas of your food and savor one small bite at a time. You’ll eat less food but enjoy it more.
4. Delight all of your senses. Enjoy the company, the atmosphere, the entertainment, and the traditions as much, if not more, than the food.
5. Be a food snob. Skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge and the so-so stuffing. If the food you select doesn't taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!
6. Be cautious of "obligatory eating" - avoid eating just because it is on the table, on your plate, because you paid for it, or because someone made it. Deal with “food pushers” with a polite but firm, "No thank you." If you're concerned about hurting their feelings, ask for the recipe or a small portion to take home with you for another meal. And don’t push food on other people either.
7. Look for opportunities for physical activity - take a walk after dinner to enjoy the lights, take a few laps around the mall before it opens to do some window shopping or take guests to local attractions.
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