Nutrition 101

10 Quick Tips to Avoid a Food Coma this Holiday Season

We’ve all been there – that overwhelming lethargy or desire to take a nap after consuming a large meal! With the beginning of the holidays around the corner, the following tips may help you from lapsing into a food coma:

  1. Do not dress for comfort – think form fitting or snug clothing. Wearing baggy, comfy clothes makes it too easy to overeat. With tighter clothing, you may begin to feel uncomfortable as you start to fill up. If you can make it through to dessert without having to undo the top button of your pants, you’re in good shape!
  2. Be sure to eat something before your meal! For some people, the holidays offer a pass to overeat – to the point of feeling ill. They will skip a meal so they can eat more at the featured event. Showing up hungry is a recipe for a diet disaster. Have a snack or light meal prior to your holiday event. Some good low-calorie options to consider include a salad, a bowl of vegetable soup, raw veggies, fresh fruit or a cup of Greek yogurt.
  3. Choose appetizers, drinks and foods that provide visual clues – pistachio shells, chicken bones, shrimp shells or shish kabob skewers all leave visual clues as to how much you have consumed.
  4. Do not be the first one to the buffet – chances are if you are one of the last to take food off of a platter, you are more likely to take a smaller serving. Nobody wants to be the one to take the last scoop of mashed potatoes. Also, once platters have been picked over, they won’t be as visually appealing.
  5. Make portion control “a thing” – pre-size! If you are hosting or bringing a side, try offering individual portions of some items. For example, bake stuffing in cups of a muffin pan; make sweet potato or green bean casserole in individual ramekins; ladle creamy soups into espresso cups; or serve gravy or rich salad dressing in shot glasses.
  6. Holidays are a time to discriminate – take your time to enjoy your food! Before sitting down to eat, have a few favorites foods in mind that you plan to indulge in. Choose small portions and eat slowly; savor the flavor and the texture of your favorite food. If an item does not meet your expectations, it is ok to leave it on your plate. Find something else that you might enjoy more.
  7. Eat the colors of the rainbow – include lots of fiber in your meal. Aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. If you're afraid there won't be healthy options available, bring a salad. All those colorful fruits and vegetables will be high in fiber that will fill you up and slow down the rate of eating. Keep in mind that not all vegetables are created equal: 1 cup of plain potatoes runs about 139 calories; the same amount of cauliflower has just 29 calories.
  8. Drink water and watch your alcohol intake – hydrating before your meal will likely reduce overeating out of thirst. Alcohol can add to your food coma-like trance by loosening inhibitions and make you feel like it is OK to have that second helping of dessert.
  9. Have an exit strategy – create some distance between you and the food! Draw a clear finish line. Once you’ve had your fair share, reach for a “meal ender” to prevent you from picking at whatever is in front of you. Pop a mint, get a cup of coffee – whatever works. Just move away from the food. Out of your reach = out of your mouth.
  10. Keep moving – make post-dinner plans. Go for a walk, do the dishes – try to keep moving! Exercising can help to bypass the drowsiness that occurs after consuming a large meal.

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A plate of holiday tasting samples