I get it; it’s the holidays so you’re going to treat yourself. And you should! But how much is too much, and is it worth feeling sick and miserable? And not only are you treating yourself during the holidays, but you’re so used to overeating that even after they come to an end, you continue this pattern and feel even worse. But don’t lose hope! I am going to share three tips to think about when it comes to overeating, especially after the holidays.

I’m going to start with the obvious (but not really so obvious term): mindfulness. We hear the word a good bit these days. But this is not to be confused with the term “will power”. Not at all in fact. Sometimes, we eat and we don’t even know what we are eating or why we are eating it. It has just become this habit that over the past month or two we have let ourselves enjoy. While it was a treat at first, now we are just doing it because we like it. But stop to think about it a little critically, if what you are eating is a snack or a sweet treat because we just feel like a treat. Or, are we bored or doing it out of habit? Or are we actually hungry? And how do we know if the latter is the case? Well, if I eat one of my favorite muffins like the pumpkin chocolate chip and then, I think, gosh that was good, I could eat 2, or 10 more, then it probably means I am hungry and should have some real food. Or if I haven’t had a good real meal, and by a “real meal” I mean not just a salad with vinegar and a few bites of grilled chicken. And if that was your “meal” you likely need another meal after that one that has some avocado, olive oil, sautéed veggies, lots of chicken or grass fed beef, and maybe some quinoa. Now we are talking, right?

The second tip is to try to keep your insulin levels as stable as possible. When our insulin levels are raised from refined carbohydrates and sugar, it can not only cause our energy levels to drop and tell our bodies to hang on to and store fat, but it can also make us even more hungry not too long after we have eaten them. They can even cause hypoglycemia/low blood sugar episodes for some. The two best things to keep insulin levels stable are healthy fats like avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and butter, and good protein, like grass fed beef, good quality chicken or pork or wild seafood. So before we reach for something that is way too easy to overeat like chips or crackers, make sure you’ve had some healthy fats and/or protein. Those two satiate us more than anything else out there.

So many of my clients will say to me “I am so hungry all the time!” But in a hushed almost shameful way they then say, “but know I shouldn’t be.” And after I hear what their diet consists of, or rather lack thereof, it makes perfect sense. They should be hungry! They either aren’t getting enough good fat or enough protein or they are eating the wrong foods; too many refined carbs and sugar. So then they try to use will power, and then by the end of the day (week, month or however long their willpower will last), they are tired and hungry and their will power loses and their appetite and possibly weight gain can win.

I’ve also heard many clients say they “skip breakfast because it makes them hungry just a couple of hours later”. That doesn’t seem like it makes sense, does it? But in actuality, it does because their breakfast is typically heavy in carbs and low in protein and with very little healthy fat. So their insulin levels spike and then inevitably fall which creates an increased appetite. I’ve never had someone say that they are hungry a few hours later that eats a breakfast that is heavy in protein and good fats. It doesn’t happen unless they just aren’t eating enough. By focusing on eating more healthy fats and good protein, it will prevent overeating, and keep you full longer, satiated, and help with your focus and energy as well!

Third and lastly, it could have to do with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It is the feel good hormone that not only enables us to see rewards, but many times, it will make us subconsciously take action to move toward them. Those holiday treats can release dopamine. And that feeling can easily get addictive. And once the holidays are over, and tree is put away, we can feel like we need a little lift. But rather than going to the pantry, try to hit the gym first, try some yoga, go for a walk out in the sun and then see if you still want that treat. If so, then go back to the first two tips.

So if you find yourself overeating, especially after the holidays, reduce your carbs, eat healthy fat and extra protein and make sure you aren’t eating sweets or snacks when you are hungry. Eat real meals! Or do a reset, like a Whole 30, to get your mind and body back on track. If you are interested in doing a reset, and while the Whole 30 is good for many, it is also pretty strict. It may not be necessary for you to do that. Or there might be something much better for you that is more aligned with what your body needs. I can help you figure out which reset would be the best for you personally based your past and present symptoms, any diagnosis, any labs if you have them, your goals and your lifestyle so we can make sure it is realistic and satisfying. We can learn a lot during a reset which if done properly, and it can help pivot us to a healthier and happier body and mind for 2018 and beyond!

Happy holiday, guys!

As the Nutritional Consultant at CentreSpring MD since 2013, Landria has helped hundreds of people improve their health and nutrition. In her 20s, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and for years struggled to keep flares in check with traditional, conventional approaches.

Email appointments@centrespringmd.com to schedule a visit with Landria Voigt.

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Categories: Diet