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Action plan to deal with an eating overload

Blowout Santa

 

The season of cheer at Christmas and the New Year often ends up with many of us over-indulging and having groaningly full stomachs. 

 

Does that sound like you? 

 

Are you trying to eat healthily or even lose weight? While many of us aim for moderation in eating and drinking, the reality is sometimes we don't achieve it. 

 

So, what can we do to overcome the physical and emotional fallout from excess? 

 

Before the event/s: 

While Christmas lasts only one day, there are often many parties in the lead up to the day and sometimes multiple relatives to eat meals with on the day. 

 

Think about your health, your values and goals. Remind yourself that your health is valuable and consider your options for managing the Christmas season.

 

  • Consider eating a healthy meal before you attend the party.
  • Keep a food diary, either on paper or use a phone app. You'll have some idea of what excess needs to be trimmed from the next week's kilojoule intake.
  • Ask for support from friends and relatives so they don't force feed you at their parties.
  • Bring healthy snacks/mains/drinks to the party so you have at least one healthy option.
  • Take your own diet soft drink, soda water or low alcohol drink as hosts don't always have moderation in mind.
  • Set your intentions about how you expect to eat and drink before you go to an event and re-visit your thoughts during the meal/party.
  • Pre-order or decide before going to a restaurant what meal you will choose.
  • Do expect to have some "sometimes" foods - Christmas doesn't happen every day.

 

During the event/s: 

Be mindful about what you are doing.

 

  • Urge surf!  Before you act on the urge to drink another glass of champagne or go back for seconds, wait 10 minutes and remember why you're trying to be moderate.
  • At buffet style meals, fill one small plate and move away from the buffet. Think about how much food you would eat if you were cooking at home.
  • If the meal is at a restaurant ask the waiter for sauces and dressings on the side, choose entrée sized meals and if you have dessert, share it.
  • Ask your friend or partner to support you to make healthy choices.
  • Offer to be the sober driver so you aren't expected to drink alcohol.
  • If you are drinking, alternate non-alcoholic low kilojoule drinks (eg water, diet soft drink, and sparkling mineral water) between alcoholic drinks.
  • Listen to your body.  Stop eating when you feel 80 per cent full. In the next 20 minutes the food you have already eaten will make you feel even fuller.
  • Eat mindfully - focus on the food or drink with all your attention, feel the texture on your lips and tongue, move it round your mouth, taste it and enjoy it.  Research shows we eat less when we eat mindfully.  This might seem hard to do during Christmas lunch - so get the whole family to join in and eat mindfully.
  • Jump up and help clear the dishes as opposed to sitting and feeling stuffed. Standing and moving will help you feel better sooner.
  • A gentle walk or family games like backyard cricket, beach cricket, boules, or chasey with the kids can help your waistline feel more comfortable and by involving everyone it will add to the fun of the day.  The release of endorphins after exercise can help you feel better, too.

 

The aftermath: 

Okay, so you had great intentions and they flew out the window. Here's how to recover the next day:

 

  • Are you worried about a hangover? Drink water before bed and the next day.  Alcohol causes dehydration so water is a great cure. Don't drive as your blood alcohol reading may still be over the limit for some time (depending on how much you drank). Monitor your blood glucose levels as those prone to hypoglycaemia may have low blood glucose while the liver processes the alcohol.
  • Did you just eat too much food and are feeling bloated with skyrocketing blood glucose levels? Have a plan you've worked on with your GP or diabetes educator on how to tackle high blood glucose levels - implement it. 
  • Do you feel like you've failed your healthy eating or weight loss plan and have "failure" tattooed across your forehead?  Reset your thinking. Beating yourself up doesn't help anyone, especially you.  Yesterday is yesterday and today is a new day.  When you fall off the wagon, get back on it the next day.  You can't do anything about the past but you can do something about today so get out and exercise, eat healthily and have a great day. If feeling disappointed in yourself made us thin, the 64 per cent of Queenslanders who are overweight or obese would be slim for life.
  • Learn about yourself.  You had great intentions. What happened?  Did you have enough support from your partner and friends?  Next time ask for more help and be specific. Did the first glass of alcohol dissolve all your good intentions?  Maybe next time don't drink alcohol. Were there enough healthy choices? Perhaps make sure there are more available next time.
  • Be your own friend.  Think about what advice you would give to a friend and advise yourself in the same caring way.
  • Need some professional support to get back on track? Make an appointment with your GP, dietitian, diabetes educator, exercise physiologist or psychologist.

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