It’s no secret. The holiday season can totally RUIN all the hard work you’ve done throughout the entire year if you’re not careful. Taking the time to be prepared, mindful of your eating and having a few really good holiday eating strategies under your belt will help you not only survive, but thrive without feeling deprived when it comes to enjoying good food. To help, I’ve created a Holiday Party Survival Guide!
Over the years I’ve assembled a little list of ideas from my own experience and from friends and customers alike. Take a few minutes to read this article and see which one(s) resonate most with you. Write them down & look at them as needed. These little tips can be the difference between skinny jeans or baggy sweats for January. What will you be wearing? The choice is yours.
HOLIDAY EATING STRATEGIES
At a Party:
- Rule 101; NEVER go to a party famished! Have a healthy snack/light meal containing some lean protein and/or healthy fats with high fiber carbohydrates to satiate (i.e. ½ low salt turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with light mayo and spicy mustard, whole grain English muffin topped with 1 Tb. peanut butter and ½ banana slices, low fat cheese wheel and whole grain crackers, small yogurt topped with high fiber cereal or wheat germ, high fiber “granola” bar (try Kashi brand) with 1 cup low fat milk or string cheese, hard boiled egg and whole wheat toast with 1 Tb. Smart Balance light spread).
- Buffet: scope out all food choices before Take only what really appeals to you and in small amounts.
- Position yourself away from the food table, or put yourself near the table with the vegetables or fruit and dip platter.
- Limit alcohol; switch between an alcoholic drink and water, seltzer, or diet beverage. Alcohol is loaded with calories and can lower inhibitions, thus impairing food choices.
- Socialize…Isn’t that what you’re there for anyway?
- Bring a food you know you can eat (you’ll seem very hospitable!)
- Fill up on green salad, non-starchy vegetables (watch sauces), and fresh fruit; the more room these foods take on your plate, less room for other high calorie foods.
- Choose higher fiber, nutrient-dense side dishes for your starches (watch sauces); sweet potatoes and winter squashes are loaded with beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber, among other antioxidants.
- Don’t allow food to be the center of the holiday season…remember what the true meaning of holiday spirit is.
- Make your own traditions: go for a group walk after eating to check out the holiday lights, have a snowman making contest…be ACTIVE!
- Identify EMOTIONAL hunger and PHYSICAL hunger; rate your physical hunger before you eat…if you truly do not know if you are hungry, you probably aren’t!
- If you are an emotional eater or eat in response to stress, have a list of other ways to cope with these feelings and refer to it!
- Remember that NO amount of food can replace feelings of loneliness, sadness or depression! Reach out for help and talk things out.
- DON’T abandon exercise at this especially stressful time of year; Exercise will only help to deal with stress better.
- Have options for exercising when time is limited; can’t get to the gym? Strap on some sneakers and walk/run around your neighborhood, do an exercise DVD in your own home, jump on the treadmill in the basement or grab that jump rope and head outside.
- DON’T forget about weight/resistance training; these sessions can keep metabolism peaked for hours afterwards (when you’re at that party!) Keep dumbbells, bands, and exercise ball handy at home for inexpensive options! Try Pilates or power yoga for more variety to your regular weight routine; your body will thank you for the challenge!
- Enlist support from family members; let them know your goals and help you brainstorm solutions to your obstacles! Sign contracts with family members to keep you accountable. AVOID anyone who may sabotage your efforts.
Holiday Cooking Tips:
- Experiment with recipes before serving them to guests; very often the fat can be cut down drastically or replaced with “lighter” versions without sacrificing flavor.
- Replace ½ oil or butter in baked goods (especially breads, cakes, cookie bars or brownies) with prune puree (or prune baby food) or applesauce to save 120 calories per tablespoon (that’s 960 calories in ½ cup!)
- Add FLAVOR to food without adding extra calories by using intensely flavored spices and herbs. For great ideas, visit www.StaceyHawkins.com/recipes