Five Ways to Avoid Over-Eating This Festive Season

Marie-Luise Huber
Five Ways to Avoid Over-Eating This Festive Season
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For many of us, the Christmas season or New Year's Eve is associated with overindulging in delicious and rich food. Maybe it's the food we eat every day, but in larger quantities, or maybe it's the food we only eat on special occasions. Either way, overeating can have negative effects on our health. The good news is that you can still enjoy some of those delicious Christmas cookies or New Year's raclette without overeating and have a healthy blood sugar level. 

In this blog, we present five tips on how to avoid overeating (which can spike your can spike your blood sugar levels) and the unpleasant feeling of fullness and still enjoy the festive season and all the delicious food.

1. Enjoy food in moderation

"Everything in moderation" is a concept we've all heard before, but what if it were a mindset rather than an action? After all, when we restrict and ban foods, we tend to crave them even more. [1] In the short term, restricting food can lead to excessive cravings, because most of the time we end up breaking our own eating rules and eating the foods we crave. But when we do, we eat like it's the last supper because we think we'll never be "allowed" to eat that food again (most of us have experienced this). 

However, when we allow ourselves to eat all types of foods in moderation (yes, that includes cookies and fondue), our cravings for these foods are more neutral (i.e. our cravings are more moderate). 

Imagine if we approached this time and the temptation to overeat with these questions: "I can eat more of this later, but do I feel like it?" If so, ask yourself: "I can eat more of this later, so do I have to finish it all now?"

2. Keep your blood sugar in balance

Keeping blood glucose levels stable can be the key to avoiding overeating. Thanks to continuous glucose monitoring with CGM sensors, we can now collect real-time data on how eating and exercise affect our blood glucose levels. This means that blood glucose levels can no longer be controlled on a whim. 

Both blood sugar spikes and lows can lead to feelings of hunger, cravings [2] and fatigue [3] - which often makes us reach for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates to get the quick energy boost our body thinks it needs. But what if we learned a different way? 

If we manage to stabilize our blood sugar levels, this can help to reduce cravings for overeating and the feeling of fullness after eating, thus balancing out these blood sugar highs and lows. [4] Managing our blood sugar levels is not just about avoiding food, but also about the timing, quantity and quality of food, as well as our exercise routine. A protein-rich meal [5] before the hot chocolate or a brisk walk[6] after the meal can help keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. 

The measurement with a continuous glucose monitor and the Hello Inside app allows you to experience the cause and effect of these examples at first hand.

3. Avoid excessive hunger

We know it's tempting to skip a meal so we can indulge later in the day, but this can often lead to overeating. When we don't eat for a long period of time, our blood sugar levels drop, and this prolonged drop is not good. This can also lead to being irritable more quickly, mood swings and generally having less patience. This is also known as "hangry".

Skipping meals can lead to an increase in plasma ghrelin levels [7]. This hormone is known as the hunger hormone, as its main function is to increase appetite, and it can lead to eating a larger portion at the next meal. Skipping meals and the resulting drop in blood sugar levels increases cravings for food, especially carbohydrate-containing foods [8].

Instead, avoid skipping meals and eat balanced meals regularly throughout the day. Focus on filling your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables, whole grains and protein. Eat enough to feel comfortably full and remember that you can always eat more later. You don't have to earn your food by skipping meals.

4. Eat mindfully

When we eat mindfully and consciously, we are more satisfied and less likely to overeat. [9] If we eat a meal quickly while we are distracted and watching TV, our food is metabolized differently than if we take our time and eat without distraction. 

To eat mindfully, you should focus on these five points:

  • How does the food taste and smell?
  • Take your time, enjoy your meal and eat slowly
  • Try to put your knife and fork down between bites to avoid eating too quickly
  • Avoid any distractions (yes, turn off all screens)
  • Enjoy the company of the people who eat with you 
  • Pay attention to when you start to feel comfortably full (about a 6 on the hunger-satiety scale) 

The more you tune into the food, the more you will enjoy it. This way, you're more likely to stop when you're full (and not eat mindlessly all the time). This way you can avoid overeating or an unpleasant feeling of fullness.

5. Pay attention to your feelings of hunger and satiety

Our body can tell us wonderfully when it is hungry and when it is full. However, for various reasons, some of us have become attuned to these signals and have forgotten the art of listening to them. The Christmas season is a good time to relearn these signals. You can start today by paying attention to them and describing them: 

  • How does your body feel when it's full?
  • How does your body feel when it's hungry? 

Don't worry if you don't recognize these signals immediately. It may take time and practice. Trust your body and listen to it carefully. You will realize that it has been communicating with you all along. If you recognize when you're full, you're less likely to overeat during the holiday season (and the coming year).

Continuous blood glucose monitoring and the visualization of your data in the Hello Inside app can help you to better understand and get to know your body's signals again. 

Enjoy the holidays! 


[1] Meule A, Lutz A, Vögele C, Kübler A. Food cravings discriminate differentially between successful and unsuccessful dieters and non-dieters. Validation of the Food Cravings Questionnaires in German. Appetite. 2012;58(1):88-97. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.09.010

[2] Wyatt P, Berry SE, Finlayson G, et al. Postprandial glycaemic dips predict appetite and energy intake in healthy individuals [published correction appears in Nat Metab. 2021 Jul;3(7):1032]. Nat Metab. 2021;3(4):523-529. doi:10.1038/s42255-021-00383-x

[3] Fritschi C, Quinn L. Fatigue in patients with diabetes: a review. J Psychosom Res. 2010;69(1):33-41. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.01.021

[4] Melanson KJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Campfield LA, Saris WH. Blood glucose and meal patterns in time-blinded males, after aspartame, carbohydrate, and fat consumption, in relation to sweetness perception. Br J Nutr. 1999;82(6):437-446.

[5] Sun L, Goh HJ, Govindharajulu P, Leow MK, Henry CJ. Postprandial glucose, insulin and incretin responses differ by test meal macronutrient ingestion sequence (PATTERN study). Clin Nutr. 2020;39(3):950-957. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2019.04.001

[6] Chacko E. Exercising Tactically for Taming Postmeal Glucose Surges. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016;2016:4045717. doi:10.1155/2016/4045717

[7] Belinova L, Kahleova H, Malinska H, et al. The effect of meal frequency in a reduced-energy regimen on the gastrointestinal and appetite hormones in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized crossover study. PLoS One. 2017;12(4):e0174820. Published 2017 Apr 3. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174820

[8] Strachan MW, Ewing FM, Frier BM, Harper A, Deary IJ. Food cravings during acute hypoglycaemia in adults with type 1 diabetes. Physiol Behav. 2004;80(5):675-682. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2003.12.003

[9] Katterman SN, Kleinman BM, Hood MM, Nackers LM, Corsica JA. Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eat Behav. 2014;15(2):197-204. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.01.005

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