Don’t Blow Your Diet: A Healthy Holiday Survival Guide
Making it through the holiday season without a little indulgence is practically impossible. It’s easy to start the new year with a long list of resolutions to address the damage you’ve done in the past two months, but it’s also just as easy to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it. Keep reading to find out how it’s done!
The best way to survive a holiday party is to know what you are walking into. How many times do you check ingredients and menus before a work lunch? Being similarly prepared for your holiday parties allows you to make decisions ahead of time and stick to your guns. Be a detective: Will there be a full meal or passed appetizers only? Will there be beer and wine or a full bar? Is it a potluck? If so, you’re in luck! Bring a guilt-free plate.
Devising your plan allows you to relax and enjoy the company of friends. If you have a hard time committing, put your allowance into a food tracker before you go or let your work bestie know your plan. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.
Make a pact with yourself that you will work out the day of the event and the day after. A little hangover can throw you off your game and get you out of your healthy routine. The perfect time to work out would be two to three hours before the event, followed by a protein-based snack, then hair and makeup. If you don’t have time to work out right before the event, no sweat; try before work or midday. It is all about staying active and making room in your muscles to suck up the extra holiday glucose.
Arrive feeling balanced by ingesting 15-20 grams of protein before the party. Protein and fat help to balance blood sugar and make us feel satiated. This strategy helps you to not feel ravenous and grab the first appetizer without thinking. If you feel bloated when you eat or want to balance your blood sugar quickly without a full tummy, consider a packet of clean protein powder and a blender bottle ($14). BeWELL clients affectionately coined this technique the “roadie” and enjoy a light protein shake on the way to their event. Arriving with balanced blood sugar allows you to feel calm and avoid holiday party pitfalls like calorie-laden desserts and appetizers.
The easiest way to hydrate and take a deep breath is to make your first drink alcohol-free. Grab a soda water with lemon or flat water, this technique allows you to work through the first few party jitters without sucking down a cocktail too quickly. It is also nice to survey the party and recommit to your game plan; you might even decide that you don’t want to waste a boozy night at this party. Starting with water is also sometimes easier than trying to put the wine down. Find what works for you; a water intermission or double-fisting (water and cocktail) are both great strategies as well.
Appetizers can quickly add up to a full meal and some fried options can be a real calorie bomb. If you know you’ll enjoy the main course, politely decline the small morsels. However, if you are in need of a little sustenance, go for a protein-based appetizer. The best options include anything that belongs on a seafood tower, a mini lamb chop, or a chicken skewer. The veggie tray and hummus can be a great option unless you’re the girl who eats the whole bowl. Avoid fried food, quiche, and flatbread options, which spike blood sugar and contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation, and weight gain. If the appetizers are set up on a table, grab a small plate and fill it once. Remember: You are there to spend time with friends and celebrate, so try to enjoy the conversation instead of the crab cakes.
At beWELL, we encourage our clients to make a choice between alcohol and dessert. Many clients are also surprised when we suggest a small piece of dark chocolate over a fruit plate. Partygoers who choose fruit allow themselves a pretty large portion when one bite of chocolate would hit the spot without the added fructose. Unfortunately, 100 percent of fructose is metabolized in the liver, and with alcohol and fructose both filtering primarily to the liver, we are taxing the body with a heavy post-party detox.
Many times we eat out of anxiety, habit, or polite response. We end up swallowing foods that don’t agree with us, give us food guilt, or worse, we eat foods we don’t even like! At beWELL, we teach our clients to remember what they love and politely decline what doesn’t agree with them. This takes practice, but it always helps to be the first to respond. Make eye contact with the server and politely decline so you don’t jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. Avoid making excuses about why you aren’t eating the crab cake or cupcake; simply smile and engage back in conversation.
What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?
be WELL. be BEAUTIFUL. be YOU.