The festive season is in full swing over here. I’ve baked over 10 dozen cookies, hosted a cookie swap, enjoyed a couple of holiday lunches, and have a party coming up on the weekend. And it’s only the first week of December!
Without a few strategies in place, festive cheer could quickly squash my healthy habits.
Sure, a holiday party or two won’t break your healthy living bank. But, if you’re attending a year’s worth of parties in one month, here are my 10 top tips to help you survive:
1. Eat a little something before you go.
If you skip a meal to “save” your appetite for the party, you’ll arrive at the party ravenous. Then you’ll end up eating way more than you’d like. Instead, eat a mini meal with protein and fibre before you go. How about:
A baked sweet potato topped with black beans, green onion and dried or roasted cranberries, with a big squeeze of lime and a wee squeeze of sriracha.
Half an avocado stuffed with walnuts, blueberries, leftover roasted turkey or chicken, with a big squeeze of lemon.
Hummus topped with roasted chickpeas + veggies for dipping.
2. Enjoy holiday favourites…mindfully.
Eating healthy at holiday parties doesn’t include depriving yourself. What healthy is taking pleasure in traditional foods, like grandma’s gingerbread cookies. Give yourself permission to eat those special, unique holiday favourites – they only come around once a year.
Skip the chips and savour the flavour of your holiday favourites.
To avoid over-indulging at holiday parties, I suggest you take a pass on those high-calorie, nutrient-poor choices like chips that are available any time of the year. Instead, choose a few of your favourite holiday treats and savour them.
3. Move away from the treat table.
Are you a table surfer? Do you grab a little nibble each time you pass the appetizers or a bowl of chips? I’ve found when I do that, I totally lose track of what I’ve eaten, especially when there’s an amazing cheese platter in front of me (and after a glass of wine). Standing beside the table doesn’t help either.
Put your favourites on your plate, and then find a spot that’s at least arm’s length away from the goodies.
Research has found that if treats are within your grasp, you’ll eat more. So, move away from the treat table!
4. Sip water between each boozy beverage.
Has anyone else notice that as you’re getting older your tolerance isn’t what it used to be? I don’t know about you, but I am super keen on feeling like a big pile of yuck the next morning. Plus, lots of alcohol means lots of calories and lowered inhibition, which means you’ll likely eat more (and maybe say things you shouldn’t!).
My strategy? Go for a couple of glasses of sparkling water in between drinks.
Flat water is good if you prefer it, but sparkling water with a big wedge of lemon or lime is my go-to, non-boozy beverage.
How does a glass of water help? Not only does it slow down your intake of alcohol, but also:
Fizzy water looks more like a festive cocktail so you don’t have to say no (again) to an overzealous host with a tray of peppermint schnapps shooters.
Carbonated water is hydrating; staying hydrated is one of the keys to avoid waking up with a holiday hangover. Fill half your plate with vegetables.
5. Fill more than half your plate with vegetables.
This is a terrific strategy to help create balance with all the other calorie-rich holiday foods. Vegetables are low in calories but give good crunch! The fibre helps fill you up so you’ll be satisfied.
As long as you’re not using your vegetables as a delivery system for copious amounts of creamy dip, it’s all good.
6. When you’re no longer hungry, chew gum.
I never recommend chewing gum or eating a mint to stop yourself from eating if you are hungry. That’s ridiculous. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry and you find yourself tempted to eat just because the food is there and it’s really tasty and everyone else is eating, pop some sugar-free gum or a mint in your mouth. That fresh minty flavour might help curb non-stop noshing.
For the final four fabulous tips, check out 10 Tips to Survive Holiday Parties: Part 2, on being a healthy host.
Happy Healthy Holidays!