It’s hard to show a little self-control when the holidays abound with mouth-watering food and sweet treats. Most people splurge a little bit every day during the month of December. Think office parties, neighborhood cookie swaps, family baking day, and Christmas goodies. But one binge per day equals thirty moments of spoiling yourself with food. Although it’s delicious (no shame about having high-quality taste buds), you don’t want to indulge like that forever.
It’s a new year—the perfect time to get the habit of overeating under control.
What overeating actually does to your stomach
Let’s take a look at the science behind overeating. As you already know, your stomach has an amazing ability to expand and contract. Some scientists believe it can grow up to five times its normal size! (Let’s not think about how they discovered that interesting fact).
When you overeat, your stomach expands. And when it grows, it places pressure on the surrounding organs. You’re likely familiar with the feeling of “being full” or “eating too much.” That’s because your stomach is literally pressing into everything nearby in your abdomen.
In addition to discomfort, overeating can give you heartburn, gas, bloating, nausea, and constipation. These are symptoms of your food traveling through your gut and intestines at the speed of a sloth.
Food fuels your body with the nutrients needed to survive and thrive. It’s time to give your stomach extra love by allowing it to remain a normal size (instead of stretched five times bigger). Here are 5 ways to help.
1: Eat smaller portions
The most efficient way to shrink your stomach is to eat smaller portions. If the holidays looked like mounded plates at your dinner table, try serving smaller amounts or fewer sides (1 meal = 1 main dish + 2-3 vegetables + 1 grain/starch). Eat a small breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack that fits into the palm of your hand, such as a handful of grapes or mixed nuts.
If this is a super sticky part of meals for you, try eating on a smaller plate. You’ll trick your mind into thinking it’s a large portion, but it’s actually a full lunch plate instead of a crowded dinner plate.
2: Drink more water
Water is amazing, when you stop and think about it. Our bodies are mainly composed of water, and we would die without it. It rains down from the sky and floods down rivers and expands farther than the eye can see beyond the ocean horizon.
It also helps your body dilute sugar and digest food. Which is why drinking more water will help you overcome your overeating habits. Drink a glass before every meal. And be sure you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
By the way, carbonated water is not the same thing as plain water. If you struggle with bloating or gas, steer clear of the carbonated kind!
3: Eat fruit for dessert
If you ate too much over the holidays, chances are that your overeating included sweets. Newsflash: Sugar can be addictive. You have trained your body to crave sugar, and this is the time for a detox. It’s wise to avoid baked goods and leftover cookies (which can be stored in the freezer). Instead, get your sugar fix from fruit.
After every meal, make you dessert a small bowl of your favorite kinds of fruit or a fresh fruit smoothie. You’re probably wondering why you can have fruit but not cookies? The sugar in fruit is plant-based, and most fruits have fiber. Combine those two elements and you’re left with a perfectly designed fruit that is easy for your body to digest. Compare that to a cookie with artificial sugars, food-dyes, and ingredients. Which one do you think your body prefers?
4: Try peppermint
Peppermint has been known as an herb that soothes stomachs. After meals, try a cup of peppermint tea. This also helps ensure you’re drinking enough liquids (see point 2 above). Suck on a peppermint candy. Wait – we just talked about sugar! I’m glad you’re paying attention! Suck on these yummy organic peppermints made with 3 all-natural ingredients. If the overeating and discomfort persists, try Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Capsules. Their coating ensures that they break down in your intestines instead of your stomach. You can even dilute peppermint essential oil and rub it over your abdomen.
5: Take a walk
The movement of putting one foot in front of the other while alternately swinging your arms (aka walking) actually helps to empty your stomach. Establish a New Years resolution of taking an evening stroll after dinner. You don’t have to go long or far; even 10 or 15 minutes will be beneficial. Plus, breathing in the fresh air will invigorate your lungs and liven your skin!
Bonus: a digestif may enhance digestion
This bonus tip is debatable, but a digestif might be a good option for you. Way back in the ol’ fashioned days, stomach elixirs often contained alcohol. Why? Because alcohol increases blood flow, and it’s assumed that an increased blood flow speeds up digestion. Trying an alcoholic after-dinner drink may help your tummy overcome the bad habit of overeating!
Start today (not tomorrow)
Don’t wait till tomorrow to fix your holiday overeating habits. You can start today! Grab a smaller plate, drink more water, enjoy fruit for dessert, have a glass of peppermint tea, or take a short walk.