Too Much of a Good Feast?

How to Avoid Overindulging During the Holiday Season

Delicious lunches, mince pies, chocolate gifts and alcoholic beverages: the festive season holds many tempting treats that South Africans like to spoil themselves with — after all, it’s just part of the end of year festivities.

However, it turns out that overindulging can give you more than a bloated belly. According to a national year-end survey by Pharma Dynamics, 55% of South Africans suffer from indigestion after eating Christmas dinner, 49% experience heartburn and 42% are burdened with flatulence. Nearly a third also admitted to rushing their food in anticipation for the next course.

Mariska Fouche, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics notes: “Overindulgence can lead to very severe inflammation of the stomach lining or in the throat from all the acid that comes up, and could even lead to long-term problems such as ulcers, gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome or a hiatus hernia.”

Unfortunately, once you’ve started the festive binge, you might not have an easy time going cold turkey. Sweet begets sweet — once you let your sweet tooth loose, a salad no longer looks good. And these festive foods can affect your gut health. Even when you start to eat better, there can be a lag based on the effects all that fun had on your body.

Surviving the Festive Season Frenzy

Luckily for humans, your indulgences are part of healthy living — when they’re planned, looked forward to, and savoured; it’s all part of a balanced lifestyle. So, here are some top tips on how to reduce the urge to overindulge, and just enjoy the Christmas cheer.

  • Stay hydrated. Hot weather, strenuous activities and time in the sun all lead to dehydration. And dehydration leads to you not only feeling fatigued and grumpy, it also leads to us mistaking thirst for hunger and overeating. So drink up!
  • Get outdoors as much as possible. The fresh air will help you feel healthy, refreshed and above all could be the thing that stops you feeling lazy and grazing continuously.
  • Don’t skip meals. Even if you’re waking up later and going for a big meal later on, it’ll play havoc with your blood sugar levels and you’ll arrive ravenous which lines you up to overeat.
  • Eat before you party. Don’t attend a party on an empty stomach. Grab a small healthy snack before you go. When you get there, don’t rush to eat – socialise and settle into the festivities and keep your socialising away from the buffet table or appetizer trays – to help limit nibbling. Choose reduced fat options as far as you can and remember to balance the amount of unhealthy meals you eat with the same number of healthy options.

Balance Is Key

Remember, you don’t need permission to eat your favourite foods. You don’t have to “earn” them or attempt to undo the perceived damage afterward. Focus on the things that matter most: eat real foods most of the time, enjoy your favourite treats on occasion (guilt-free, of course) and be physically active in whatever way you enjoy most.

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