This weekend was jam packed with family fun including a beautiful fall hike, a spontaneous pumpkin carving contest, a lot of pregnant belly rubbing, and of course delicious food!
Is anyone else feeling the effects of too much Thanksgiving feasting this past weekend? I heard numerous people make comments at work this morning about still feeling "stuffed" after several days of overeating. Many people accept overeating as a part of the holidays not just at Thanksgiving but all year 'round for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and whichever holidays you and your family celebrate each year. There are 2 problems with the notion that overeating is an acceptable part of the holidays:
1) Holidays are actually NOT a rare occasion.
In fact there is usually some type of holiday, birthday, anniversary, or special event at LEAST once every month and if you're like me and my husband, each holiday can involve up to 4 separate occasions if we attend both sides of his family and mine. This means that for almost 1 week every month I can use the excuse of a special event as a reason to overeat and ignore everything I know about portion sizes and mindful eating. You can imagine that at that rate not only would my waistline be likely to expand, but my overall nutrition status couldn't possibly be at it's best - and neither could I.
2) It is a disservice to ourselves and the loving hands that prepared a special meal to eat until we are 'sick'.
Dietitians, just like everyone else, face the challenge of not 'overdoing it' on special occasions. We often start off a meal dishing ourselves large portions of special foods such as stuffing and turkey, and forget that there are still 5 or 6 other dishes yet to get passed around the table. The problem with this overfilling of our plates is that then we feel we need to finish everything in order not to offend the host, and to show how much we really loved the food ... even if it means eating until we actually stop enjoying the food. The meals we enjoy most are the ones that leave us wanting just a liiiiitle bit more. This is actually when we are most satisfied. Eating the 'perfect' amount to when we are full and not overfull, is an extremely hard habit to learn because it means stopping eating when we are still hungry. This allows our brain the time it needs to catch up with our body and tell ourselves to stop eating and that we are full.
Despite knowing this information, I can honestly say I still fall into this trap. Some occasions are better than others and although there are times when I don't overfill myself and make sensible choices, there are many times when I think "WHY did I eat so much?" after finishing my meal. This year's Thanksgiving wasn't my best but it is most definitely a lifelong learning process. Some mistakes we often make during big eating holidays is that we skip meals in order to 'save room' for later... this is a myth. In fact it's a big fat lie that we tell ourselves. Although you might go into a meal feeling more ravenous than usual because you've skipped breakfast or lunch, and although you may be able to physically get down more food, it doesn't mean you will avoid that overfull, uncomfortable feeling. In fact, you are much more likely to overeat and stuff yourself when you approach a big meal on a very empty stomach. Eat regularly on the days when you have a special meal to look forward to and I can guarantee that you will enjoy that meal even more.
There is one other special tip I will share with you for tackling those holidays meals and special occasions and it's the Whit's Two Bits rule.
This is a rule that I live by not only on special occasions but in my everyday life, because the reality is that there is always going to be a box of donuts at the office, there is always going to be those drive-thru suppers, there is always going to be temptations, and there is always going to be non-nutritious food available. The question is how do we decide what to eat and how much?
The Whit's Two Bits rule is simple, so simple in fact it's barely a rule. It means have everything, eat everything, enjoy everything.... but limit yourself to two bits. I can honestly say that I never deny myself something that I really want to eat simply because I know it doesn't have much nutritional value. I have mentioned on this blog before and often when working with clients that 'healthy eating' doesn't mean ONLY eating nutritious food, it means having a healthy RELATIONSHIP with food and that means including foods that might not be great for the body, but that are very good for the soul. No one can continually deny themselves food that they desire to eat and expect NOT to overindulge. Instead, allowing yourself a few bites of your favorite cake at a birthday, a strip of bacon when out for brunch with family, or whatever food your heart desires, allows you to enjoy any and all foods without the guilt or shame often associated with eating "bad" food. This doesn't mean that you can simply eat 2 bites of non-nutritious 'extra' foods in lieu of eating your vegetables, whole, grains, and lean proteins, but rather that two bites here and there of some not-so-nutritious food is all part of a well balanced, satisfying, and non-restrictive life-long way of eating.
Putting this into practice at your next holiday meal is a great place to start. Don't overfill your plate with the first dish that comes around. Instead take a look at what's on the table and decide on all the items you want to try. If it's every single thing on the table - great! Then fill your plate with only two bites of each. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use your fork (un-eaten off of of course!) to dish food onto your plate instead of the large ladle that might in passed around with the dish. What can you fit on 2 forkfuls? THAT is two bits.
I can assure you that your plate will still be full and so will your stomach... only this way you've gotten to truly enjoy everything without overdoing it. When dessert comes around, instead of saying ... "Oh I can't have that or I don't eat dessert" ask for a sliver and mean it or dish it out yourself if you have family members that are notorious for cutting a whole pie into only 4 massive pieces. Sometimes, for me, a two bite dessert means sneakily stealing two spoonfuls of pie and ice cream off of my husbands plate. That for me is much for satisfying than a large slice of pie that I generally don't even enjoy after the first two bites are gone!
So the next time you are faced with some tempting food choices at a restaurant or a family dinner ... just think WHIT'S TWO BITS! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great start to this beautiful fall season. For all my American friends celebrating Thanksgiving in the next few weeks ... you're welcome of the head's up ;)
Take a peek at the photo's down below to see how we spent the holiday weekend at Whitty Nutrition headquarters. Also check out Whitty Nutrition on facebook, instagram, and twitter for more!