The holidays are a time for us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. For better or worse, with celebration comes food. If you have been working very hard at eating healthy, losing weight, or maintaining your weight, this may be a difficult time for you. The last thing we want to do is over-indulge in all the delicious food that surrounds us during the holiday season. What are some things you can do to avoid over-eating and sabotaging all your hard work?
Prepare Yourself Before the Party
One of the biggest mistakes you can make before heading to a party is to skip a meal or arrive hungry. By eating a light, healthy snack before leaving your own house, you can set yourself up to make better choices.Try a low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim milk.
Bring a Healthy Holiday Food
If you are hosting the party, you have control of the ingredients that are added to the favorite holiday recipes - but as a guest, it is not as easy. However, just because you are a guest does not mean you can not offer to bring a healthy, low-fat dish to add to the selection. Most hosts will welcome an additional dish, and the other guests may enjoy having a healthier option to choose. Consider a simple dish like roasted string beans, or if you offer to bring dessert, consider a pumpkin pie without the crust or baked apples.
Be Mindful During the Party
The first thing you should do is remember what the celebration is about. Your mind should be focused on enjoying the time with your family and friends. During mealtime, fill your plate up mostly with vegetables. Try not to over-indulge, but you should not feel like you have to avoid any item. Choose items that are your favorite in smaller portions, and eat slowly to savor every bite.
Avoid drinking beverages that are high in sugar and calories, or at least limit your intake to a single drink. Alcohol adds extra unwanted calories and, if too much is consumed, it lowers inhibitions, which can lead to overeating. Try consuming water with a lemon or lime, skim milk, or diet / sugar-free beverages.
One great way to avoid snacking throughout the party is to plan fun activities to participate in with other guests, such as games or making crafts. If it is available, set up a tournament with a gaming system that is interactive. That is a great way to burn some calories and avoid the buffet of snacks sitting out on the counter or table.
This time of the year should be enjoyable. However, you need to keep physically active, maybe now more than ever. Physical activity reduces stress and gives us more energy. Try fitting in a workout before the party because, more likely than not, you will be tired from all the celebrating afterwards. During the party, go on a brisk walk with some of the other guests or, if there are children around, toss a ball outside. This can give you a burst of energy and a chance to catch up.
If you like participating in races, sign yourself up for a seasonal 5K run/walk or some other fitness event that will keep you focused and motivated to stay active.
Remember: The holidays are for celebrating with family and friends. If you must splurge one, two, or even three days during the holiday season, then that really is not going to ruin all of your hard work. It takes an extra 500 calories each day, or 3,500 calories a week, to gain a pound. All the extra snacking can really add up, but you can easily pass up all the treats in the office and keep goodies out of your own home. If you do this, you can feel good allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you look forward to every year.
Amy Reidenbach is a registered dietitian with a desire to help others learn about nutrition. She has many years of experience in the food service and health care industries. Amy holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and a Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Amy uses her personal life experiences to fuel her passion for nutrition and the overall well-being of those around her.