Christmas time is here. All diets are out of the window with Mum piling plates high full of turkey, as much veg as you can count and potatoes done at least two ways. It’d be rude not to eat it all. And that’s after a few cheeky chocolates brought by Santa!
It’s so easy to overeat in the festive season, but how do you prevent this and what should you do if you have eaten too much? Here are six simple suggestions how to deal with overeating:
1 – Chew more slowly
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The pain you get from overeating is unlike the normal pain response you get from banging your shin on the coffee table. It takes a while for your brain to register that your stomach is full. Knowing you are full has more to do with the brain than it is to do with the gut. A hormone, called Leptin, is released from your fat cells to tell the brain that you are full. This is why eating very rich food satiates you quicker. If you eat too quickly, you don’t give Leptin time to work, then it is too late. Chew your food more SLOWLY! Once you have reached the maximum capacity of your stomach, stress receptors are activated sending a message to your brain via the vagus nerve telling you to put the fork down – “”she canna take any more Captain, she’s going to blow”
Allowing food more time in your mouth increases your enjoyment and appreciation of the flavours, and you’ll know in time when ‘enough is enough’
2 – After dinner drinks
If you’ve had a big meal, you always feel that you have space for dessert, even if you are full, even for a wafer thin chocolate mint! Put this off until later when your stomach has had time to settle. Something as rich as Christmas pudding will delay your digestion and leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable for longer. Leave the port as well, as this is high in fructose and it can lead to gas production by your gut bacterium, making you feel even more bloated.
Instead have something to aid your digestion like an espresso or chamomile/peppermint tea. This helps improve gastric emptying. Camomile also has a sedating effect on the stomach.
3 – No small sugary snacks
Although it is very tempting DON’T pick at sweets and chocolates. It’s very easy to overeat, as they cause a release of dopamine, the feel good hormone and you just want to eat more! You’ll pay for it later! After all that food give at least a couple of hours before eating more.
4 – Go for a walk
Unless you had a time machine from Santa, there is no turning back time once you’ve eaten too much. Don’t just slouch on the couch, go for a walk. Put a coat on and take the kids or dog round the block. You will also feel better for getting some fresh air. Studies from German scientists have shown that a stroll actually speeds up the rate of digestion. Don’t do any heavy exercise, it’s going to take a while to digest the food if you’ve overeaten and adrenaline slows down the blood flow to the stomach, causing digestion to become sluggish and can make you nauseous. Get some fresh air!
5 – Relieving that bloated feeling
Still feeling a bit gassy? Stock up on some activated charcoal available from most pharmacies and health food shops. This will neutralise any gas build up and help prevent any embarrassing odours – a must if you’ve been piling into the brussel sprouts! No one wants extra sound effects during the evening film! However, if you are taking other medication, please consult with a pharmacist before taking the charcoal as it may reduce the absorption and effectiveness if taken together.
6 – Getting back on track
If you’ve been binge eating over the holidays, cut out processed food, including bread and eat more natural foods. Fruit and vegetables along with meat and fish are what the body needs. Processed foods contain a lot of hydrogenated fats and added sugars causing an inflammatory state. Natural foods contain the right vitamins, proteins and fats for you to function properly and are the perfect foundation for shifting any extra festive baggage you may have put on.
(image credit: thejournal, wgna, a1coffee, threadsapart10, 3.bp.blogspot)