You may have noticed that I left one key component of the holiday season off of my previous post and that is how to eat healthy at a holiday party.
Outside of the endless trays of cookies and chocolates in the office, it’s the biggest challenge faced by everyone this time of year, and I think it warrants its own set of helpful tips. So, here goes.
1. If you heed one piece of advice from this article, let it be this: Never go to a party hungry! Have a large glass of water and a healthy, somewhat filling snack before you leave. What you eat beforehand can be just as important as the food and drink choices you make while you’re there.
Good options include an apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, whole grain crackers and a slice of cheese, raw veggies and 1-2 tablespoons hummus, 1 cup steamed edamame, a small handful of nuts or a half sandwich with lean meat. What you eat beforehand can be just as important as the food and drink choices you make while you’re there.
2. Survey the entire buffet table or menu first, before you start reaching for this and that. Portion your plate with bigger helpings of fruits, vegetables and lean meats. A good balance for a 9” round plate is 1/2 non-starchy veggies and fruits, 1/4 protein rich foods and 1/4 grains.
It’s ok to sample items like creamy dips, desserts, heavy casseroles, processed meats and fried foods if you absolutely can’t resist – but make sure they don’t play a starring role.
3. Eat slowly. Savor the flavor of each bite and enjoy the experience of nourishing your body with good food.
4. Fill your plate once and then step away from the buffet! After you finish eating a normal size meal, it’s time to focus your attention and energy on the people around you instead. Sometimes it helps to put a mint in your mouth right after you finish eating to keep you from going back for seconds.
5. Watch your alcohol intake. Not only does it contain excess calories, it can inhibit your willpower when it comes to watching what you eat. Mixed drinks usually have a higher calorie count than beer or wine. You may not realize this, but one chocolate martini can have as many calories as a McDonald’s value meal!
If you’re really looking forward to a dessert cocktail at the end of the night, make room for it in advance by cutting down on your portion sizes on the appetizer and main course.
I said this before, but it bears repeating. If you happen to overindulge or skip a few days of exercise, don’t give up. The holidays are fun, but unfortunately, they can be stressful as well. Focus on one day at a time and do your best to make healthy choices. Accept that sometimes victory is making it through the holidays without gaining any weight.