I struggle to not overindulge during the holidays. I find the weeks following Christmas it is difficult to get back into my routine of healthy meals. . . well, the healthy meals aren't so difficult, but eliminating unnecessary snacks is. I know I'm not alone in this struggle.
Why does holiday overeating make it hard to return to normal eating habits?
1 - Stomach is physically larger - Overeating causes the stomach to become enlarged and it can take more food to provide the same feeling of satisfaction.
2 - Lack of sleep - This is probably the biggest culprit for me. I do not usually get good nights sleep during the holidays as we travel between families. A lack of sleep leads to elevated levels of the hormone ghrelin which causes you to feel hungry.
So, what can you do to recover from holiday overeating?
First, go to bed at a reasonable time and waking up at close to the same time everyday. This will allow the body to get back into its normal routine and better balance the hormones ghrelin and leptin (hormone that impacts your feelings of satiety).
Drink more water.
Drink a good 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning and a smaller 8 ounce glass about one hour before bed. Drink about 6 ounces of water with each meal and/or snack. If you are dehydrated you can feel false hunger pains, when what you really need is a drink of water.
Clear out the junk.
If you still have remnants of the holidays lingering in the house (i.e. Christmas candy and desserts) it's time to throw them out. Out of sight, out of mind. Remove the temptation now.
Double up on vegetables.
It may take a few days or a week to feel satisfied again with a normal size portion of food for your meals. Instead of having a larger serving of protein, grain, or dessert, have a second helping of vegetables. Vegetables are a bulky, high fiber food that will help fill your stomach and keep you feeling satisfied longer.
Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Just because you throw out the Christmas goodies doesn't mean you won't have a craving for a snack during the day. Keep healthy snack options on hand, such as fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, fresh vegetables, and string cheese.
Do you struggle to turn healthy changes into long term habits? If so, you can access the free report How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits at http://hearthealthmadeeasy.com.