2020 is the year for home cooks – everyone’s doing it! Well maybe not everyone, and maybe cook is a strong word. With all the sourdough and banana bread pics on social media, perhaps home bakers is a better word, (just saying).

Regardless of whether you plan to use your apron as a cape or a festive accessory, this is the time of the year we tend to overdo it in the eating department. It’s almost impossible to avoid. The best thing to do is have a few strategies in place.

Have a look through some of these ideas and give one or two or all of them a try.

1. Hara Hachi Bu

Hara Hachi Bu is a Japanese adage used by some of the oldest healthiest people in the world. They say this just before starting a meal as a reminder. So what is it?

Loosely translated it means – Stop Eating When You Are 80% full.

2. Space Your Meals

This ties in with Hara Hachi Bu. Our bodies take a bit of time to sort through what we have eaten. It can take a while for you to actually begin to feel full.
Try to space meals about 20 minutes apart.

3. Eat A Veggie Heavy Starter

You’re thinking – “I thought we were supposed to eat less not more?”

Well here’s the thing, eating a small veggie heavy starter will not only get the healthy stuff in first, it will get you feeling satiated a lot sooner.

4. Don’t starve yourself

Starvation and a spread of delicious food are not a good combo. It lowers your resistance and increases your chances of binging. So unless you were recently given Sainthood for your denial of temptation abilities, best to have a small snack before the festivities begin. Maybe that means eating a decent breakfast, a snack before you leave home, or a starter before the main course.

5. Defer, defer, defer

No, I haven’t confused this list with a courtroom drama. I’m talking about ‘that’ person who’s always insisting you have more. Everyone is eating, drinking, talking, laughing and the host is loving it. They insist you have that extra helping and you feel bad saying no – so don’t. Don’t say no, just say later. By the time later comes everyone has moved on and forgotten about it, hopefully. If not, then ask if you can take it home.

6. Make water great again!

Let’s face it, not only are cocktails and drinks fun they can look pretty appetizing. So asking for a glass of water when your friend is sipping on a Mojito can make you look like a bit of a buzz kill. Well, water doesn’t have to be boring. Make some flavored water, use sparkling water with fresh fruit and herbs for a snazzy and attractive drink.

7. Slow Down

You have most likely spent the whole year guzzling your meals in front of a computer, the TV or under stress. Meeting up with friends, family or those closest to you is about enjoying their company, the environment and cherishing the moment. So no need to rush. Take time to notice the food, chew properly and pause between bites. Savor not only the food but the moment.

8. Get Active

Take your yoga mat with you to lunch – Just kidding!

You will need to do 1 of 2 things here, or maybe both. Let go of your inhibitions a little or get creative. If there’s music then get your groove on and bust a few moves on the dance floor. Maybe it’s time to revive that sprinkler move you had in high school. If there’s a swimming pool and everyone’s in it, don’t be a wallflower – get in and have fun.

If there’s a nature walk or beach near by, go for a post meal stroll to ‘make space’ for dessert. Look around, get creative.

9. Avoid the dinner plate

Dishing up a small serving on a big plate is soul destroying. It looks terrible and you get the distinct feeling of missing out. Why not get a side plate and fill it up. You might even want a refill, but it’s highly unlikely you will go for a 3rd round.

10. Let go of the guilt

Here’s the thing, meals connect people. Great meals make memories.

If your mom made a 12 course meal and spent 2 days making it – enjoy it! You don’t eat like this everyday and breaking out from your norm isn’t going to destroy you.

The purpose here isn’t about not eating the triple chocolate trifle. It’s about enjoying the moment and avoiding, (or minimizing), the extreme excess we often fall prey to. Whether you’re attending year end functions or spending time with family, it can become a stressor. Using one or all of these strategies can help relieve some of the stress.

Don’t forget to take a little time out for yourself. Balance all the hype with a bit of quiet time and recharge.

Take care friends and don’t just give presents, be present.