Celebrate Without Gaining Weight
T’was the month before Christmas and the parties begin; can I eat, drink and be merry, and still remain thin?
When it comes to the Holiday season, party foods and alcohol are symbols of festivity. Holiday celebrations, with the traditional buffet-style parties and hearty servings of eggnog make it difficult for the average health-conscious individual, as the opportunity to eat and drink more than usual is available and enticing.
So how can you maintain good eating habits and still enjoy holiday parties and social gatherings? Here are a few strategies to assist you through this season of temptation.
The party isn’t all day long.
Maybe it is, but more than likely, it will be in the evening. And just because you will be attending a holiday event, doesn’t mean you have to blow the entire day. On the day of the party, pace yourself at breakfast and through lunch with smaller protein based meals, reserving your fat and carb count for later that evening where there will undoubtedly be lots of fats and carbs (and not much protein) to choose from.
Eat before you go.
Eat a small, healthy, high protein meal before you go to the party. This will prevent you from being ravenous when you finally get to the buffet table and you will be less likely to overindulge.
Don’t quit the program just because it’s party time. Sticking with your exercise program will keep you feeling good about taking care of yourself and you will be less inclined to go way overboard when choosing holiday delicacies.
Dress to eat less.
Wear the tight-fitting dress or pair of pants that you look great and feel good about yourself in, AND that doesn’t allow you to eat too much. It’s easier to discourage those visions of sugarplums dancing in your head when you can feel your pants getting tighter.
Make the calories count.
Scout out the spread and choose small, taste size portions of interesting looking dishes you would like to try. Don’t waste calories on familiar foods. Stay away from the cheeses and fattier foods and dips with heavier cream bases, and remember portion control – little nibbles add up to large servings. Vegetables and finger sandwiches filled with meats, like turkey, ham and roast beef make the best choices. Avoid the chicken, egg and tuna salad sandwiches, which are usually made with a lot of mayonnaise, high in fat and calories. Also, ditch the bread and just eat the meat. I’m sure Miss Manners wouldn’t be too appalled at you picking at your food in the name of health, and after all, they are called finger foods.
“Eat and get out!”
The slogan that made a popular restaurant in Chicago famous, is a good rule of thumb at parties. Once you have made your selections, take your plate and leave the table – in fact, leave the room. It’s easy to be tempted when the food is staring you in the face. Stay away from the table and keep busy so you won’t be tempted to eat.
Visit with friends rather than the food.
It seems like tradition to gather around the food table, concentrating on what to try next, rather than truly paying attention to the conversation at hand. Visit with friends, dance or mingle and focus on other things besides the tempting array of food. It’s good to enjoy food, but it’s even nicer to truly enjoy the company of friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.
Drink, drink, drink WATER.
Make sure to drink plenty of water before (and during) the party. This will not only help fill your belly, but hydrate you when you are drinking alcohol.
The burning question of alcohol.
Yes it’s festive, but with little redeeming nutritional value – just lots of empty calories and often hidden fat. An average eight-ounce glass of eggnog with alcohol contains about 490 calories, and more than 20 grams of fat. Daiquiris are loaded with sugar and after-dinner drinks like Irish crème and other cordials contain about 70-125 calories per ounce – which adds up rather quickly. Wines and clear liquors, such as vodka, make better choices. The darker alcohols like whiskey and rum contain more sugars, as do the cheaper, sweeter wines with the twist tops, rather than the corked type. Try using club soda or tonic to mix with your cocktail. Even wines can be diluted with club soda or sparkling water to make a wine spritzer for a refreshing low-calorie change.
Keep it in perspective.
Have a strategy before you leave for the party with a designated number of cocktails that you will drink and an allotted amount of food that you will consume. If you eat more than you had planned at a particular function, that doesn’t mean you’ve blown it for the entire holiday season, try to return to your normal healthy eating habits the next day. Your attitude about what you eat is just as important as the food itself.
Making the effort to watch your calorie intake is the perfect gift to yourself. . . no more need for those nasty New Year’s Resolutions!