For many people, Thanksgiving marks the start of the “Season of Overeating.” Holiday meals often mean a table overflowing with foods that are as much about tradition as they are about flavor. We’ve turned the holiday into a race to see who can eat the most and feel the most miserable when the meal is over. Then we throw ourselves into a chair to rest until we’re ready to eat dessert. It often takes upward of 6 to 8 hours before stomachs start to rumble to signal hunger, so most hunger is from the mind. Dr. Joseph Skelton, pediatrician and director of Brenner FIT at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said most hunger comes from thinking about food, smelling food, seeing food or being reminded to eat. This sets the mind on food and people convince themselves they are hungry and it’s time to eat, Skelton said. “This is why we can often overeat during holidays, because even though we aren’t really hungry and just need more energy, we think about, see or smell food and want to eat,” Skelton said. To avoid overeating, Skelton suggests:
Wait. When eating it often times takes 20 minutes or more to fill up, so wait before asking for seconds. People who don’t wait and keep eating will eat to the point of fullness, but they will feel uncomfortably full later.
Take your time at meals. Sit, talk and take a break.
Don’t deprive yourself. It is a special time with special foods and family around – enjoy it.
Plan ahead. Know that you are going to have special foods and schedule them. If you are having a big holiday dinner, then eat lighter for breakfast and lunch, or focus on higher-fiber fruits and vegetables.
Limit big meals to one a day. Don’t have grandma’s special pancakes for breakfast on the same day as Thanksgiving turkey.