The holiday time is a time to celebrate and be social with friends and family. December is full of holiday parties with many tempting hors d’oeuvres that go straight to the hip and leave you with unwanted “fluff”, and an extra 10 pounds by New Year’s Eve. It is common for people to throw caution to the wind, and put off making good food choices until it becomes a New Year’s resolution. But if you wait until then, your goal has just increased by 10 pounds due to a few bad choices in December. And now you are at least two months behind in reaching your ideal weight…
It doesn’t have to be that way!!
Here are some tips to keep you on track:
1) Never go to a party hungry!
This is a recipe for disaster. As soon as you get a whiff of the beer battered fried appetizers, they will inevitably wind up in your mouth, with more than you ever intended. It’s not a surprise, since your body is starving and is craving a sugar fix in the form of simple carbs!! Have a whole wheat toast or toasted whole wheat English muffin with some natural nut butter, or a Greek yogurt with some almonds and an apple, an hour before you go. You will be able to make smarter choices and control your impulses once at the party.
2) If you are going to have alcohol, ensure that you have a glass of water between each drink. Stick to choices like wine, champagne, or vodka with club soda, rather than drinking beer or adding sugar laden (calorie packed) fruit juices to your vodka.
3) Don’t skip meals to “save” calories for later. Skipping meals only sets you up for a binge disaster. First, it puts your body in starvation mode, therefore slowing down your metabolism and setting your body up to store fat. Second, it sets you up to make poor food choices, since you’re famished and will forage for anything to satisfy your hunger. Instead, eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day, leading up to the party.
4) If you are around foods that you love and must have, resolve to only have a little bit of it. You don’t want to feel deprived, or feel “punished” for eating healthy. This goes hand in hand with having a nutritious snack before the party. If you are not famished, it will be easier to have self-control and eat in moderation.
5) And don’t just eat for the sake of being social. That’s just wasted calories. Occupy your hands with a glass of Pellegrino or wine, and move away from the food table. Only have what you love and in small portions.
Sparkling water is a great diversion because it forces you to slow down to drink it (if you drink it too fast, you will either belch like an animal, or be begging for someone to scare you from your hiccups).
Sparkling water will also make you feel fancy and festive. (as opposed to an ugly glass of tap water on ice)
6) If you are cooking or contributing to a potluck, make sure that you make something healthy, and something that appeals to you. That way if everything else is unhealthy, at least you can enjoy eating your own food knowing that it’s good for you!
7) I can’t stress this enough: stay hydrated! Not only does water help in having fantastic skin, but being thirsty is often mistaken for hunger, and therefore sets you up for overeating and for making food poor choices.
8) Try not to be the last one to leave the parties. Getting rest is important to regulate cortisol levels in your blood, and to keep your metabolism levels higher.
9) And if you do wind up drinking too much, at least maintain enough self-control to NOT have that slice of fat laden, simple carb pizza before bed. I always keep a package of whole wheat angel hair pasta and a jar of Prego in the apartment for those “runaway” nights. Angel hair because it cooks in 3 minutes. It’s so easy to make, and at that point all your body wants is some carbs to satisfy the cravings. It’s emergency food!
10) Don’t forget about exercise in December. The gyms are looking pretty empty lately… At least take the stairs instead of the elevator!