If you are inclined to gobble gobble over the holiday season, fear not! There are ways to navigate the holiday festivities without packing on the pounds. It’s tough to get through office parties and family get-togethers where delicious snacks and drinks abound, but it can be done with a little planning and determination.
1. Secret Seven
Make sure you have seven servings of fruit and veggies a day. When choosing party snacks, make a beeline for the veggie crudités or the festive nut selection first. Filling up on these at the start will make it easier to restrict snacking for the rest of the evening.
Never go to a party hungry! When you are attending a function or a dinner, have a salad before you leave. This will take the edge off your hunger and limit snacking, but won’t ruin your appetite for dinner. If you don’t have time to make a salad, eat a healthy snack like a granola bar, organic cookies, rice cake or fruit. You can keep a stash of these in your desk or your car so that you always have a healthy snack on hand.
When you are sitting down to a big dinner, eat your veggies first. It’s ok to get in on Aunty Fran’s stuffing or Uncle Ed’s irresistible mashed potatoes, but take small portions and save them for last. You are less likely to overeat if you have already filled up with the good stuff.
2. Get moving
You can be the holiday hero by raking leaves, shovelling snow or blazing a trail on the dance floor. One of the biggest problems with the holidays is the suspension of physical exercise. Even if you don’t feel like heading to the gym, make sure you still get a workout every day. Go for a walk in the snow, play with your younger family members or offer to take the dog out; even ten minutes of exercise every day will help.
3. Be the life of the party
The focus of the festive season is to spend time with family members and friends. Choose to spend some quality time with friends and family members rather than with their signature dishes. Make sure that you get to speak to everyone at the party, but don’t do so while standing in the kitchen or next to the snack table. Seat yourself as far away from temptation as possible and enjoy the conversation of others.
Do the same over dinner. Make sure you don’t get stuck between relatives you don’t like, but rather sit next to those you do. Use your dinner time to chat which will give your brain the 20 minutes it needs to register the fact that it’s full. More talking will mean less eating!
4. Drink to be merry
Drink lots of water. Sure, you’ve heard that before, but it’s really important to stay hydrated. You eat 20% more when you have had two or more alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks are packed with calories and drinking water will also fill you up so you eat less. Opting for juice over wine or eggnog is also a better direction to go in.
If you must have a drink or two, stick to white wine, vodka and whiskey with calorie-free mixers like soda or tonic to ensure that you keep the calories at bay.
5. Give yourself a daily delight
Unless you have the fortitude to completely withstand temptation, allow yourself a little treat each day. Having a little gives you something to look forward to and makes you feel like you get rewarded for all your hard work.
Even if you do fall off the horse from time to time, it’s important to reset each day so that one bad day doesn’t turn into a week-long grazing session. Moderation is the key to success and this holiday season will be more fun if you’re feeling healthy and happy.