Simple steps can help avoid eating too much

Special to the Herald-LeaderDecember 30, 2012 

Rachel of UKHealthcare

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Too many cookies? Too much Eggnog? Did you eat at one too many potlucks at the office? Are you feeling like you have eaten for a family of four and your still waiting for your stomach to empty?

Many of us will be attending more parties and family get-togethers this week, and there's sure to be plenty of unhealthy food and drink to go around.

But you can still finish this holiday season with some good eating decisions and start your new year on the right foot.

Here are some tips so you can enjoy yourself during these last few days of 2012 with no regrets.

Don't deprive yourself. Not allowing yourself to have any treats can lead to disaster. It paves the way for you to end up going overboard and having too much.

Additionally, you will be preoccupied by your wavering willpower and miss out on really focusing on enjoying your time with friends or family.

Take one bite of fudge (or your favorite rich food) and then ... walk away.

Physically removing yourself from the table of food helps you "snap out of it," allowing your stomach and brain to regroup and realize that you are full. Once you feel that sensation, the urge to continue eating will subside.

Unfortunately, the food table is usually where everyone congregates, and temptation can be right there in your face. In this situation, drink some water or a low-calorie beverage. Sometimes just holding a glass can make you feel occupied and subdue your urge to graze.

Drinking water while you are eating and when you are feeling your appetite creep back up can help you feel full and satisfy what you may really be feeling — thirst. Staying hydrated helps keep your metabolism in check so you can burn off those holiday calories.

When you are eating, slow down. The faster you shovel in food, the longer it takes you to feel satisfied. In that critical window of time, you can rack up the calories and be well on your way to feeling miserable. Take time to sip your low-calorie beverage and enjoy what you are eating. Someone spent time on that casserole, you should too.

In order to make this easier, don't wait until you are starving to eat. We've all come home from the grocery lamenting that we shouldn't have gone there hungry. Don't go to a holiday party hungry, either. Skipping meals and waiting too long between them can cause us to pile it on our plates and eat too much at one sitting. Be consistent with your meals and be conscious of the time of the celebration to plan so you don't show up with an insatiable appetite.

Though these tips are especially helpful during the holidays, try them anytime throughout the year to have a good time eating out without feeling too full. You'll be glad you did.

Rachel Miller is a registered dietitian at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.

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