With Liane Wansbrough, CNP

If you look forward to traditional holiday feasts with a combination of delight and dread—you aren’t alone. Buffets, holiday cookies and gatherings centered on food are surefire ways to trigger overeating. Here are my top 3 personal strategies for holiday eating survival:

Keep Ahead of Hunger

Starting a meal in an overly ravenous state means eating intensity will be revved up. In this state it’s easy to bypass satiety cues, polish off everything on your plate and go back for more. Regular snacks that have some protein and healthy fat throughout the day or a smoothie before an event will keep you from feeling famished.

Appreciate Your Eating Experience

Somewhere in between bite one and twenty we end up on autopilot. I’ve learned to bring a degree of consciousness to my eating style and this means slowing down. After a few initial bites of food I put my fork down, finish chewing and take 3-5 slow breaths. This calming ritual helps me be more present for the rest of the meal.

There is a lot of intelligence involved in the process of digestion. In particular, it takes the brain time to catch up with the belly and register fullness. Eating slow also helps us relax. This optimal physiological state—called rest and digest— means more blood and oxygen flow to the gastrointestinal area. Slowing down with meals is a powerful way to set the stage for better digestion.

Chose Your Indulgence

Most cultures have holidays that involve celebrating the pleasures of food. Choose the treat, meal or occasion that you truly love and decide in advance that you will give yourself permission to relax around food. It may be easier to forgo the not so great canapés at the beginning of the evening if you know you are going to savour a slice of homemade pie after dinner. By focusing on your favourite foods you won’t feel guilty because you overdid it on everything.