It is important to remember the holidays are only a few days during the weeks between Halloween and New Years Day. So if we count we have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (I will give you one of the eight nights), Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Eve. If you celebrate all of these holidays (which many people don’t) there are 6 holiday meals in all. Notice I write “meals” – not entire days, weeks or months for that matter. Just a few meals over the course of 2 months.
You are thinking about everything in between the actual holidays aren’t you? I get it. It’s a lot of parties and a lot of food. But do we need to over indulge at all of those parties? Do we need to eat everything at a party? There are so many parties and they aren’t even necessarily on the actual holiday itself. I am not going to tell you what is worth it and what isn’t but my tips below will surely help you MANAGE YOUR SPLURGES . But first, remember to ask yourself, always, “Is all of the food that important? Is it more important than your weight management goals? And is the party about the food anyway?
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR NAVIGATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON
- Why are you going to the party? Is it your friends? Your family? Work? Before leaving the house ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this party?” “What am I trying to accomplish at this party? Most likely it is about spending time with your friends, family or co-workers outside of the office. Typically, it isn’t the fabulous crab dip that your friend made out of her Aunt Bea’s family cookbook. And if that is the reason why you are going to the party then read tip number 2.
- OK, so you are dying to try Aunt Bea’s crab dip your friend has been raving about. Just have a taste and move on. No one will be insulted or even notice if you just take a little bit. After that first taste, you are officially “eating” it. Move on. And move on to the crudite platter. (LOL)
- A little something about those tastes and bites that you are innocently taking…over and over and over again. Be careful and taste with caution and discrimination. The calories still count and they do add up. One chip with spinach artichoke dip is about 60 calories (one chip!!!), a mini hot dog will cost about 100 calories and that bite of cake with frosting, yep, another 100 calories. And you really haven’t “eaten” anything that is satisfying your hunger. The lesson is not to count calories or to not have your favorite foods but it is to make sure you understand that these little bites and tastes still register and they still count! Make sure you, before you take a taste that it is something that you really want to try or love.
- Remember the party will be over, whether you overindulged or not, the party will come to an end. How do you want to feel when everything winds down? I wrote about this in the “Tips and Tricks For A Healthy Thanksgiving” . Is eating everything so important to you? Is the food more important than your weight management goals? And is the party about the food? When the party is over are you going to wish you ate less? Enjoy yourself AND the food but think about how you want to feel later when you start to rationalize “why it is OK to eat more than you know is necessary to feel satisfied”
- Eat before you go to the party. Try as you may but you can’t ignore this one. I also wrote about this in “Splurge Mindfully on Halloween” and “Tips and Tricks For A Healthy Thanksgiving”. It is worth repeating because it is so important. If you don’t eat before you go to a party you will be more likely to give in to temptation and rationalize why it is OK to have more than your fair share of holiday fare…i.e. those deliciously displayed appetizer fried calamari in martini glasses. And if you tell yourself, “Well, it is just a party and I will start tomorrow, Monday or after the New Year” stop right there! You are just rationalizing why it is OK to do something that you know isn’t in line with your goals and you are encouraging the very habits you are trying to break to lose weight and keep it off for good. Tip: Have a snack before the party that contains a protein and a carbohydrate like a part-skim cheese stick and an apple. This will help you resist everything that is within hand’s reach.
- Speaking of hand’s reach, don’t congregate around the food stations or the buffet. The further away you are from the food the more effort you will need to make to get to it. If it is worth the effort then you must be hungry enough. Also, out of sight out of mind…if the food isn’t in plain sight you will be less likely to think about it or tempted by it.
- Apt for fuss-free foods. What I mean by this is choose foods that are simply prepared. Such as chicken satay skewers (just don’t dip in the peanut sauce), foods at the carving station like turkey or beef tenderloin, or foods that are on a seafood station like shrimp cocktail, oysters, clams, and even sushi that doesn’t have tempura or heavy sauces on top. These foods tend to be much lower in calorie and much more filling.
- Don’t spend your calories on beverages. Avoid juices or high sugar soft drinks. Opt for water, seltzer, or club soda. If you want a little taste, ask for seltzer with a splash of cranberry juice (or your favorite juice). We satisfy an empty stomach and hunger with the calories we chew. Calories from beverages don’t satisfy us; we don’t eat less later because of the calories we are drinking now.
- While on the subject of beverages, monitor your alcohol intake. Not only does it have a lot of calories, each 4 oz. glass of wine will have about 75-90 calories and every ounce of hard liquor has about 80-100 calories. Alcohol also makes you feel hungrier and lowers your inhibitions which lead you to eat more than necessary. Tip: For every drink with alcohol in it have a glass of water or seltzer.
- Just like at Thanksgiving, enjoy the foods during parties and the holidays that you only eat during this time of year and portion control. For instance, most people don’t eat potato latkes any other time of the year except for Hanukkah and the same goes for egg nog on Christmas. If you love it have it but have just one!
Most of all, have fun! Food is a part of it but it isn’t what it is all about. The holiday season and the celebrations are about spending time and being grateful for our friends, friends, and the people who have enhanced our lives. So with that, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year. Cheers!!!