Arriving with some pre-meditated dining do’s and don’ts is a great way to avoid a train wreck. You know you’re going to be facing dozens of food decisions no matter what your diet is. And if you are on a restricted diet you already know what you can eat and what you can’t. Therefore, it is pretty easy to set down a few guidelines about what you should eat and what you shan’t. Even write yourself a reminder! Putting it to pen can solidify your intentions. Establishing boundaries means being prepared. Winging it through a holiday feast is like a boat in a storm without a rudder.
The Ruleof Quantity
“How much” is the big one. Go into your meal with a strategy. Maybe something like: ‘I’ll try many things but only take small portions.’ Or, no matter what the temptations, ‘I’ll enjoy the entrees but skip dessert.’ Above all, it is important to protect your plate from disembodied food implantation---in other words, don’t let anyone else fill up your plate except you. Serving yourself keeps you in control. Take small portions to start. There is always an option for seconds. Only you know how much volume you can tolerate before you max out your capacity. Repeat this mantra: “Small portions.”
The Rule of Variety
Holiday meals are usually replete with a wide selection of special foods. The temptation is high and if you are not anchored it portends a monstrous intestinal contest wherein nut proteins clash with beans, and beans battle cheeses and cheeses mash with meats...you get the idea. All this weighs heavily on you as your gullet goes acid, your stomach turns, your head aches, and you eventually shut down into slumber. The digestive track can accomplish amazing things, but it is not a cement mixer. Sure, you will recover. You’ll wake up. The acid will recede. The bloat will subside. But the byproducts of incomplete digestion linger. They will hunker down in your gall bladder and in your liver and fatty tissues waiting to one day impact your immunity and longevity. Unless...
....Unless you follow your meal mission. You’ve got your goals. Follow the rules and stick to them no matter how many tantalizing temptations, bells, whistles, flashing lights, guilt-laden wisecracks, parental protestations, and to-die-for desserts are thrown in your path.
Having a good time does not require pigging out. Food is only part of the holiday. How about feeding off of good conversation? Maybe talk about tomorrows exercise program to relieve some today’s feast! The mind can endure much more stimulation than the stomach.
Here are some practical tips to help you feel great before, during, and after the feast.
1) Drink Before. Sip During.Water is a great cleanser. Drink plenty before the eating begins. That cleans your stomach and prepares it to receive the approaching bounty. Lots of liquids during the meal dilute your digestive enzymes. During eating sip enough to keep dry foods wet and moving, but don’t "wash down" your food. Food needs to spend time in your stomach in contact with concentrated “undiluted” digestive enzymes.
2) Small Mouthfuls. Small Portions.Discipline starts before food enters your mouth. After those taste bud receptors start firing, it is hard to slow them down. Before the fork touches your lips, you must make a conscious decision to minimize. Consider choosing a small plate. Seconds are always available. Chew slowly and thoroughly.
3) Talk or Chew, not Both.Didn’t your mother tell you this? Either you’re going to do a good job of talking or a good job of chewing,but probably not both. Chew every forkful until it is virtually digested in your mouth, then swallow. Is that 30 crunches? Fifty? Whatever it takes. We’re supposed to enjoy the food anyway, right? Take your time.
4) Go Light on Carbs. Breads, crackers, cakes, potatoes, chips, desserts....these foods fill us up with little redeeming nutritional value. Eschewing these foods leaves more room for the good stuff. The overabundance of carbs and sugars in our society is the number one cause of diabetes and obesity.
5) Choose. You Can’t Eat Everything. The smorgasbord is radiating with comestible magic and seducing you to taste everything in sight! The temptation is magnetic. Your only hope for survival is the discipline you decided in your pre-feast plan. You can’t eat everything. Make an executive decision before it’s too late! Choose what to eat and what to shun.
6) Break the Overeating Cycle. If you find yourself overwhelmed, here’s the rescue remedy. Step away from the table. Go to the bathroom and rinse out your mouth. Even use toothpaste or mouthwash, anything to cleanse your taste buds. That breaks the enzymatic engine. It’s the antidote to craving. Once the lusting for food is neutralized, you can return to the scene of the buffet. When there, use your mouth to chat, not chew.