Controlling Binge Eating

Healthy Holiday Eats 2023

The holidays are just around the corner and, thankfully, it seems we’ve gotten through 2023. No matter what holiday you celebrate, chances are that there will be lots and lots of food around this month. Clients keep telling me about the cookies, pies and other sweet treats they are excited to bake but wonder how to do so without packing on the pounds.

So, how do you walk the line between enjoying the festivities of the holidays, including baking, cooking and eating delicious foods, and maintaining a firm hold on your weight and health goals?

I am a big believer in moderation. The reason is this - people who see good foods and bad foods, good eating days and bad eating days, or restricting and over-indulging are most at risk for binging during the holidays. It’s not necessarily the foods you are eating that causes weight gain, it’s the increased quantity of foods. In other words, it’s the “all or nothing” mentality that gets in the way of healthy choices and portion sizes. Think about it this way—if you have barely eaten leading up to the holiday dinner and you are ravenous, will you be able to control your food choices and portions? The answer, undoubtedly, is no. You will be so hungry that you will go into a holiday binge. Undereating ALWAYS leads to overeating. The problem is that you may have slowed your metabolism a bit by reducing your caloric intake and then, you lose control and eat everything! The weight comes on and you feel awful.

On the other hand, if you look at foods as fuel that powers up your body, and that all foods are acceptable, in moderation, you will be able to make it through the holidays, unscathed.

Here are some helpful tips for eating healthy during the holidays:

  • Three bite rule- Every dessert is broken down into 3 parts:

Part 1- The brain signaling the stomach much excitement and anticipation to try the delicious and yummy looking dessert.

Part 2-Enjoying the dessert.

Part 3- The increased focus on the taste of the dessert because it is almost finished.

Understanding the 3 bite rule means understanding that the brain is fundamentally involved in the enjoyment of foods. Studies have shown that this occurs, regardless of whether the dessert is large or small. It’s that middle part, Part 2, that increases the number of calories you take in. If you decrease that, you lower the overall caloric intake. That said- if you could limit your intake to 3 small bites, focusing on the smell and the taste, instead of mindlessly eating it, you really can “have your cake and eat it too”.

  • Smaller is better- Make your pies or cakes in mini muffin trays and pudding in small ramekins. By doing this, you are limiting your portion size and calorie intake, while enjoying the foods you love most. Another good idea is to choose smaller utensils and smaller plates for eating. It’s been well established that people consume fewer calories by this simple swap.
  • Think about the drink- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day guarantees you that you will not misread the signal of thirst for hunger. Both are controlled by the same part of the brain, so if you are thirsty, you may misinterpret that signal and think you’re hungry and eat instead of drink. It’s also helpful to know that hot liquids, whether they are broth- based soups or hot tea, for example, can help to fill the stomach so that you eat less.

If you’re looking for nutritious recipes made with natural ingredients, check out Carrington Farms recipes for inspiration.

The holidays are upon us, and we all deserve to celebrate the end of this year but let’s do so in a healthy way- by enjoying the time we spend with loved ones, in person and on zoom, and by keeping our weight down and our health intact. As always, stay safe and happy holidays to all!