CulinArt’s Dietitians debunk the popular myth that fasting before you feast is a useful healthy holiday hack!
In anticipation of a delicious festive feast, many people believe that skipping breakfast or lunch is an effective way to keep calories in check and prevent themselves from “over-doing it”. While this seems like a practical approach, research suggests otherwise. Skipping meals during the day may result in overeating. It is especially important to have breakfast, as research shows that those who eat this important morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Include lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains; these foods will satisfy hunger and are lower in calories. Arriving to a holiday meal feeling famished may lead to over-consumption of “empty calorie” foods, those high in sugar and added fats, as your body will crave foods that will raise your low blood sugar after having fasted all day.
There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating:
- An hour or two before the holiday meal have a balanced snack that incorporates carbohydrate and/or protein-Greek yogurt, fruit and a piece of cheese, or a small handful of nuts are good options that will curb your appetite and keep blood sugar steady.
- Using a smaller plate encourages proper portion sizes and allows you to be mindful of your hunger and fullness cues.
- Begin by filling your plate with fiber rich vegetables and salad and then move on to the entrees and desserts.
- Eating a salad before your meal can help you feel more satisfied due to the high fiber content.
- Take stock of the options available and choose foods that you truly want to eat.
- Eat slowly; take time to enjoy every bite and focus on the family and friends that surround you.
- Before you go back for seconds wait 10 minutes to see if you really still are hungry.
- Remember, liquid calories count too! Flavored water, seltzer, and unsweetened teas are all calorie free and will help keep you hydrated. If you choose to consume alcohol containing beverages or seasonal favorites such as egg nog remember to do so in moderation and always alternate with water or other low calorie beverages.
All in all – we want you to enjoy the holiday season rather than thinking about what and when you will be eating. No need to “save your calories” for the yummy holiday meals – eat normally, listen to your cues, and fuel your body according to its everyday needs.
Enjoy all of your favorite foods, enjoy the company of friends and family, and enjoy the overall joy that the holidays bring.