OK guys, I am super excited for the holidays! I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. The stores are all abuzz with Christmas decorations and i’ve been having a ball decorating my tree and putting up lights.
Let’s be honest, it can also be a really stressful time of year! There are the get-togethers (some you don’t want to attend!), gifts to buy for everybody, and not a ton of extra time to relax. The one that gets me every year—the delicious food and temptation to overeat.
Sometimes we go to multiple Thanksgivings, and there are always so many holiday parties for both work, friends, and family. Each event has it’s own delicious smorgasbord of holiday food (I personally love anything chocolate related—one of my guilty pleasures). Sometimes you get to talking, and eating—and then more eating. And who can forget the mulled cider, eggnog, and all of that delicious-ness?!
Diet’s and meal plans tend to go by the wayside, and the temptation to “cheat” on our best-laid plans is all too real. “Just this once” can easily turn into “just this week” or “just this month”! Pretty soon you’re off track, and getting away from your goals of eating right and portion-controlling your food.
I’m going to share some of my secrets on how to combat the inevitable excesses of the holiday season, so you can stay on track and feel great.
6 tips to stay healthy this holiday season
Go Into That Party With a Plan!
When I go to a party, I always give myself some clear boundaries before I arrive. I arrive knowing how much I will eat, how long I will stay, and if I will have any alcohol (zero is best of course!).
What to eat? There’s all this delicious food!
My general rule is to go for the healthiest non-processed foods available. Veggies? Yes please! Sauces and dips, I’ll stay away from those to avoid extra calories. I always make one plate, instead of doing what I call “grazing” which is just picking up food casually as the night goes along. I don’t load up my plate to the brim – portion control is key. Just because your host hands you a 12 inch paper plate doesn’t mean you need to pack it full of all that deliciousness.
Don’t Over Drink
How many drinks will be my limit? Of course, coming from your favorite doctor, zero is always the best number when it comes to alcohol! But I understand, some of us like to get into the spirit, and have a nice glass of wine.
Parties are different, and sometimes you can easily guess what they are going to be like. Is the host a little heavy-handed with the booze? That’s one of the easiest ways to get off track.
Add some of those delicious pieces of chocolate fudge, an hors d’oeuvre or two, and you can easily consume 1000 calories of delicious junk food and drinks at a party. Ouch. No wonder the most common New Years Resolutions are weight loss, right?
Give yourself a clear limit—how many drinks will I have? Remember, the average glass of wine is 100 calories. An eggnog martini can exceed 400 calories. A few of those and you’ve sipped the equivalent of an entire meal or more in calories.
Fill Up With Healthy Food Before Your Event!
We all know what it’s like to have an event or social obligation that we have to attend. The worst thing is when you are marooned with unhealthy food! Surrounded by mounds of chocolates and pastries? Can’t leave the place because it’s the hubby’s bosses big Christmas shindig? It’s the worst type of temptation! Just remember, it’s always OK to politely decline food. Never feel like you have to eat food to be polite.
I always try to drink some green juice, or fill up with some healthy raw vegetables before I go to an unknown event that can last the evening. Enjoy some carrots, bell peppers and hummus. This way you won’t find yourself starving and giving into temptation!
Mentally Plan For Bad Relatives and Negative People
Irritating relatives. Sometimes they’re just unavoidable! Everybody seems to have at least one in their extended family. It helps if you mentally prepare before your event. Do a little mental meditation beforehand and envision yourself dealing with that certain pushy in-law in a calm and polite manner. Go into it knowing that they will inevitably annoy you—it’s a fact of nature and you’ll be ok. This helps keep your stress levels low (which of course keeps you healthy and well!) and your cortisol levels from spiking unnecessarily.
Put Fresh Greens and Vegetables at the Top of your List!
We all have those traditional favorite dishes that we grew up eating. You know the dish? Extremely delicious—the kind that bring back good memories. In my family it’s gooey warm peanut butter cookies, lasagna, and fresh brownies. However, none of the above are especially healthy! They have the habit of haunting us at family member’s holiday get-together like a bad omen!
With all the traditional holiday foods, be sure to put greens and vegetables at the top of your list. Enjoy those green beans and salad. Consider bringing mashed cauliflower to the event so you don't have to load up on carbohydrate heavy mash potatoes and gravy. Brussel sprouts and roasted carrots are great ideas as well. The key is to eat them first, and fill up your belly on the good nutritious stuff. Then indulge a little in your traditional favorites. Try not to smother those poor greens out with salad dressing or sauces. A nice vegetable plate—celery, carrots, bell peppers, and some olives is the perfect solution to heavy winter party food. Make sure you include big helpings of fresh green salad if you’re having the lasagna, and make sure the salad gets most of the real estate on your plate.
Get to Bed at a Decent Hour!
Sleep is so often one of the most overlooked cornerstones of health. A good night’s sleep balances your body in so many ways. Holiday parties often run late, past midnight and into the wee hours of the morning. Set a clear departure time for yourself from those winter gatherings so you can get home and get some valuable sleep. If you have a date, make sure they are on the same page and you talk about it before you arrive at your party. Your body will thank you for it the next day when you’re refreshed and feeling great.