Avoid Overeating With These 10 Tips

This post is the second in our four-part series How to navigate the silly season with aplomb: four strategies that will make the holidays feel welcome and well-balanced. Today we’re talking about how to avoid overeating, when every meal feels like a feast and tantalizingly tasty treats are left lying around the house. Let’s dive in.

Overeating means:

  • Eating without a physiological need to do so (you’re not hungry nor do you need that food for energy)
  • OR eating too much during one meal or eating period.

We have all done this from time to time, but when it becomes chronic it becomes a problem. The side effects of regularly overeating don’t stop at an increased waist line; consuming excess calories taxes your digestive system, increases insulin production and leaves you feeling lethargic and irritable. 

I used to say that the holidays — or any celebration meal really — provided a good enough reason to let loose and enjoy too much food. I’ve since realized that the opposite is true: the guilt and discomfort that comes with overeating detracts from our genuine enjoyment and fond memories of that special occasion. 

With that said, here are ten practical tips to help you avoid overeating this season. 

How To Avoid Overeating (Long and Short Term Strategies)

Strategy One: Understand Your Triggers

Triggers are the people, foods, situations, surroundings and emotions that occur before you overeat. You need to understand these triggers so that you can stop stop treating food as an enemy, a stimulant, a relaxant or a form of punishment.

While I know that it’s easy to blame our triggers for causing an episode of overeating, they actually aren’t the problem. The problem is how you choose to react to the trigger. And yes, I did say choose, and I know that might make you feel a little tetchy. As an ex-binge eater I believed that I had no choice and no control over what I was doing. Yet we do have a choice. Your choice starts starts with deciding to eliminate food as a coping mechanism and dealing with your triggers, and the underlying issues that they arouse, in a different way.

>>> Related Post: Why not eating enough was causing me to overeat <<<

You can do this using the Who, What, When, Where, Why framework. (Taking you back to third grade English? Me too!)

WHO: who are you with when you overeat or who were you with prior to overeating?

WHAT: what foods, flavors or textures do you have a hard time saying no to?

WHEN: what time of day do you tend to overeat, or is it connected to certain situations?

WHERE: do you overeat at home or when you are dining out?

WHY: what emotions, thoughts or physical feelings are you experiencing before and during this time?

Strategy Two: Acknowledge Your Core Craving

Find the recurring theme that threads through your answers from Strategy One.

  • Perhaps you overeat after you’ve left work, when you are home alone at night, generally feeling isolated.
  • Maybe it’s in the afternoon when you are at work, you’re swamped with emails or other demands, you already feel stressed and keep thinking about the chores that await you at home.
  • Or possibly it’s when you’re feeling anxious in a social situation and you keep picking at the snack table as a way to avoid small talk.

Strategy Three: Create New Coping Strategies

The next step is to create new coping strategies for whenever a trigger presents itself. 

  • If you’re feeling lonely: call a friend, play Scrabble or Chess online, join a bookclub, go out to a museum or a movie, write in a journal, join a gym class…
  • If you’re stressed at work: schedule mini-breaks throughout the day (take a walk or practice guided meditation), delegate tasks to a co-worker, set designated times for checking email, plan relaxing after work activities, get up early to take “me time” before the day officially starts…
  • If you’re feeling socially anxious: read this post, but also know that eating your anxiety only fuels the flames of self doubt. Find healthier coping strategies like taking a pre-event recharge nap, journaling your emotions, attending intimate gatherings, asking a friend to join you, and reminding yourself that you have so much value and interest to give to others.

Strategies one – through – three are designed to help you find a long term solution to overeating. Loneliness, stress and social anxiety are obviously not only applicable to the holidays, although they tend to be exacerbated at this time of year. Use these tips to continue to heal your relationship with food into the New Year. 

The following strategies are practical “quick fixes” that you can call upon to keep over-indulgent behavior at bay. 

Strategy Four: Don’t Get Too Hungry

It is hard to make smart decisions when your tummy is growling like a put-upon reindeer and your blood sugar levels have crashed. No matter how busy your schedule is at this time of year, it is essential that you schedule time to eat a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner, and keep some healthy snacks on hand should you need to grab them.

Strategy Five: Enjoy What You Love

Here’s an unorthodox suggestion: if you really want something then you shouldn’t settle for a substitute. There’s no point in avoiding a slice of Christmas pudding if you end up eating half a box of low-fat cookies instead. Think about the foods that you are really interested in savoring at this time of year — those are the treats to serve yourself a portion of and truly enjoy it. And yes, a portion is what you put on a plate and sit down to eat…it’s risky business to go in for “just a bite”.

Avoid foods that don’t make this list — candy canes and run-of-the-mill store bought chocolates aren’t worth the splurge.

Strategy Six: Rely On Inconvenience

Luckily, or not, humans will avoid inconvenience at all costs. Not keeping certain foods in the house will make it a lot less likely that you will eat them, because even if you really want something, you’ll likely not head out at 9pm in your pajamas for it! With that said, don’t feel pressure to take home leftovers from friend’s dinner parties, and never feel bad about re-gifting edible treats that you don’t want to eat…let someone else appreciate them!

Strategy Seven: Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water keeps your energy and mood elevated, flushes toxins from your body and actually helps curb sweet cravings. Aim for 8 cups a day and trying adding lemon, citrus, berries or apple cider vinegar to flavor.

Strategy Eight: Be Mindful

Last year I wrote about how to eat mindfully. In a nutshell, the eating process includes considering, looking, tasting, chewing and generally slowing down. Also, there are no points for being a member of the Clean Plate Society.

Strategy Nine: Choose Your Treat Time

Here’s the straight talk: you will physically feel a heck of a lot better if you avoid sugar during the holidays.

Here’s the real talk: I can appreciate why you might not be willing to do that, as I will be partaking in the sweet stuff too. 

What you can do is designate your sugar consumption to one meal a day. If, like me, you love a wee spot of dessert, choose to say no thank you to afternoon candy or that pre-work flavored latte.

(Side note: can you guess how much sugar is in a Maple Pecan Latte from Starbucks? Tall: 35 grams; Grande: 45 grams; Venti: a whopping 56 grams — twice the daily recommended added sugar intake for an adult woman. This is not ok.) 

Strategy Ten: Sleep

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are a quick source of energy; sleep is a sustained source of energy. When you get 7-9 hours of shut-eye every night you’ll find it a heck of a lot easier to judge how hungry you are, and what your body really needs to be eating.

These strategies are simple but powerful and I do hope that you’ll incorporate them into your lifestyle this holiday season. Next week we’ll be talking about managing stress as the end of the year comes to a close. Stay tuned!

With love,

start a regular exercise routine

How to start a regular exercise routine today

Exercise. Now there’s a word to trigger butterflies of guilt. But it’s ok! In today’s article we’ll chat about some of the myths that are holding you back from feeling fit and active, and I’ll outline how you can start a regular exercise routine today.

First though: if the thought of breaking a sweat makes you break a sweat, feel free to swap the word “exercise” for movement…a more pleasurable term I think. And that’s what I want you to keep in mind as we cover today’s topic — moving your body IS a pleasurable experience, and it’s also an act of self love. We are literally made to move (despite modern society’s best efforts to convince us otherwise), and the more you do it the more your body will respond with delight.

Exercise makes us feel better, function better, and yes indeed, look better. So why do so many women have a hard time committing to it?

As a trainer, women’s health coach and ex-couch potato here are the four main obstacles that come between a well-intentioned woman and her fitness routine:

  1. Time
  2. Tiredness
  3. Gym access
  4. Not feeling fit enough

Let’s briefly look at each of these individually and then find a workable solution. (Taurean practicality strikes again!)

“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO EXERCISE”

Forgive me in advance for using the clichéd argument that we all have 24 hours in a day, but the reality is that we do. The average Joline breaks her day down into three categories: sleep (8 hours), work (8 hours) and personal time (8 hours).

What goes into personal time?

  • Bathing
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Commuting
  • EXERCISING
  • “Me time”
  • Personal appointments
  • Kid stuff (if that’s your reality)
  • Partner stuff (if that’s your reality)
  • Friend stuff
  • House stuff
  • Time in between for doing nothing in particular

How much time you dedicate to each of these activities depends on your personality and lifestyle. While you probably won’t get to them all every single day, by the end of the week (and your 68 hours of personal time) you can and should.

And when it comes to exercise you ONLY need spend 4 – 6 hours on it each week. If I were better at math I’d be able to give this to you as a percentage of 68 hours…but just trust when I say that it’s really very doable.

So let’s make it actionable

Step One: Dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day for exercise of some sort. As I said, your body is designed to move, it thrives on movement, and you’ll feel much better for doing it every single day.

I used to give clients the option to do “bite-sized chunks” of movement, such as 5-10 minutes here or there throughout the day, but I now stick with the 30 minute minimum. Why (other than toughening up in my old age)? Because taking 30 minutes to commit to movement is showing yourself that you deserve to have a healthy body, while refusing to spend that time is telling yourself that you’re not open to self love, and you’d prefer to sabotage your own personal development.

Step Two: To make this a reality you need to schedule it on your calendar as a non-negotiable meeting with yourself. And if you’re hemming and hawing about what time of day is best to exercise, the answer is simple. It’s the time you actually do it.

Step Three: To make the most of the time you’ve delegated you need to have a plan. This is more efficient and makes it easier to follow through. Don’t overcomplicate this. Walking is great. Stretching is lovely. Body weight movements are fantastic. Keep it simple and you’ll achieve success.

(Still think that you can’t carve out 30 minutes each day? Download my free audio guide: Take Back Your Time)

“I’M TOO TIRED TO EXERCISE”

Au contraire, my dear friend, movement actually gives you more energy. Being sedentary drags down your energy because your heart rate drops and your metabolism slows.

(Nothing like sluggish bowels and constant yawning to make you want to skip your workout.) 

But when you choose to be active you can quickly reverse these feelings. The simple act of taking a walk will put a spring in your step, and getting moving will get things moving (if you catch my drift)

If your fatigue is more emotional than physical, then its important to note that regular activity (especially when taken outdoors) is a healthy way to release the stress hormone cortisol and boost your mood.

And if its purely physical aches and pains, then movement could be just what the doctor ordered. Sitting all day (in cars, at your desk, on the couch) puts pressure on your back, hips and spine. The activities that you do seated (driving, computer work, eating) keep your body leaning forward, which puts pressure on your neck and mid back. Getting up, shaking out those joints and moving your body returns circulation to areas of stiffness and keeps your muscles and connective tissue strong and flexible.

So let’s make it actionable

Don’t let fatigue make you skip your daily movement experience, instead experiment with a gentle 20-30 minute walk and see if your energy doesn’t lift.

“I DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO A GYM”

This one’s not going to fly with me. If you have a pair of sneakers you have access to everything you need to be fit.

So let’s make it actionable

Leave your house and explore the wide world around you: walk, run, swim in the ocean, skip along the footpath, twirl your arms and spin in circles…. Today I walked to a nearby park and did 90 step ups, 30 pushups and 45 squats using a park bench before walking back home.

For more tailored workout routines you have access to YouTube, indeed including quite a few Jennifer Dene Wellness workouts… Perhaps you’d like to press play on this leg workout

“I’M NOT FIT ENOUGH TO GET FIT”

This is a very real reason, and one I’ve known myself. I’ve had times in my life when I’ve been very fit and times when I haven’t, and I have to say that going to a gym class and feeling like the underdog is pretty demoralizing. However, the only way that you’ll improve is by taking the first step.

Know this: wherever you are on your health and fitness journey is exactly where you should be. Your current state is the perfect launching pad for where you want to go.

So let’s make it actionable

You might like to consider finding a trainer, friend or accountability buddy who can show you how to get started on your fitness journey, including demonstrating the best exercises for a beginner and telling you those that you should avoid.

Then build your foundation from the ground up by improving your mobility, focusing on walking, and incorporating functional core strength exercises into your weekly routine. Once you’ve conquered those bases you’ll be ready to tackle any and all forms of movement that fill your heart with delight.

I hope that this article has been helpful in debunking some of the why-I-don’t-exercise myths, and has pointed you in the right direction to get moving today. As always, let me know how you go by leaving a comment below.

With love,

healthy evening routine

A Healthy Evening Routine: It Takes More Than Greens & Gratitude

Lately I’ve been pondering the multiple layers of health. From what we eat to how we think and who we spend time with, our whole lifestyle plays a role in our ability to feel well. In today’s blog post I’m looking at how our social connections influence the perception we have of our own lives, and why acknowledging struggles helps us endure. At the end of this short post I’ve shared a simple healthy evening routine that will help you make great progress on the lifestyle goals that you’re currently working on.

Since moving to America in 2011 I’ve been rather forward about making friends. As an introvert, a bookworm, and someone who likes to be in her pajamas at 6pm, this has been quite the turn around for me.

Here’s how it usually plays out:

  1. I meet a woman at a gathering, a fitness studio or through a mutual connection
  2. I ask her out for a tea or a walk*
  3. We suss each other out and see if we want to talk about the possibility of friendship

*I tend to choose activities that are fairly noncommittal for the first “date”. Lunch or dinner add a certain amount of pressure…it’s a long time to make chit-chat with a stranger and there’s the chance that you’ll end up smiling with lettuce in your teeth.

Some of these dates have turned into life-long friendships, while others can be simply chalked up to “experience”.

This is fine by me. As someone who would rather go deep with one person than have shallow connections with 100, I’m perfectly happy with just a handful of close friends.

But what I’ve learnt, in becoming a serial friend-dater, is that many people have a hard time going deep, getting real, and being open and vulnerable to someone else. I’ve noticed this in real life as well as online, where presenting an idealized version of yourself to the world is more important than being authentic.

In the past year alone I’ve gone on several coffee dates with women in my industry who, after introducing themselves, proceeded to spend five full minutes taking photos of their turmeric latte from several different angles to post on social media. Later that day these photos would pop into my Instagram feed with the caption: “SO much fun getting to know the lovely Jennifer Dene today.” But really, how well could they know me after 45 minutes of surface-level conversation?

This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy networking or meeting new people…in fact, I love it. But I do feel that too many women spend too much time crafting the perfect version of themselves for public consumption, without giving enough attention to their private struggles.

Nowhere is it more important to be honest and open than on the topic of our physical, emotional and mental health. Knowing where we want to improve, or when we need to ask for help, is a crucial component of our well being. So it’s time to get raw and real, and stop comparing your inside to someone else’s outside.

Today’s simple exercise will help you appreciate what you have, reflect on where you’re struggling, and make progress towards where you want to be. So grab a pen and let’s do it to it.

A Healthy Evening Routine

Every evening answer the following questions:

  1. What is one thing that I am grateful for from today?
  2. What are two things that I struggled with today?
  3. What are three possible solutions that I can think of, that will help me overcome those struggles in the future?
  4. Who can I turn to and ask for help, support or companionship, should I need it?

This exercise is simple and profound, so I hope you’ll give it a go.

And then let me know what you think of today’s topic by leaving a comment below.

With love,

P.S. You might also like to read my morning routine post here.

Relieve Constipation | Jennifer Dene Wellness

Feeling Constipated? These 5 Tips Will Help.

I’ll be frank, today’s conversation may feel totally awkward, especially since we’ve only just met.

But talking about your bathroom habits should be right up there with discussing your healthy diet and daily exercise routine. Regular bowel movements are a sign of good health, and are nothing to be embarrassed about.

Yet for many of us, toilet talk is one of the most embarrassing discussions to have.

On my new-client intake form I ask about digestive health, and there is one particular question that 80% of my female clients jump past as quickly as possible.

The question: “Do you experience regular constipation, diarrhea or gas?”

The most common answer from female clients: “No, nope, not me.”

Whereas my male clients… well, you can imagine the detail!

I totally get it. For the longest time I was SO embarrassed to talk to my husband about anything that went down in the bathroom that we had to create a code word for that daily constitutional.

We call it “The Mouse”. Best not to overthink it.

Of course that kind of daintiness can only go on for so long before it gets old. I’m not embarrassed anymore, and I hope that you’re not either.

So let’s throw this topic on the table and have a good ol’ chat-a-roo about our toilet habits, and in particular how to relieve constipation.

In today’s video I’m sharing five simple tips that will help to keep you regularly regular.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch, scoot to the end of the page and grab the recipe for the fiber bowl — a concoction that will seriously change your life.

To Recap, Here’s What We Discussed:

Tip #1 = Stay Hydrated

Tip #2 = Chew Your Food

Tip #3 = Move Your Body

Tip #4 = Eat Fiber (soluble AND insoluble)

Tip #5 = Squat On The Pot

And Here’s Your Fiber Bowl Recipe:

This one is a game changer! Have it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and immediately follow with a very large glass of water. Once your system gets used to the fiber-hit you can increase the quantities a little bit.

~ 1 tablespoon psyllium husks (available Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Amazon etc)

~ 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds

~ 1/2 tablespoon slippery elm bark powder (I usually order mine online)

~ Ground cinnamon to taste

~ 1/2 cup coconut water

~ 1/2 cup filtered water OR 1 cup filtered water only

Mix everything together and drink immediately.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You

What helps you to keep your digestive system happy and humming along? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

With Love,

JDW Signature

P.S. Want recipes and workouts that will keep things moving? Download your free week of the Healthy Living Made Easy Program