It’s holiday season again — the time of year where most people see a spike in weight gain.
Between work, friends, and family, holiday parties are in abundance.
Don’t be caught unprepared.
Minimize damage and still have a good time by following the tips in this course-by-course survival guide.
The first thing you’ll be asked is what you’d like to drink. Here’s the plan:
Think low cal/no cal.
Water (with or without lemon)
Seltzer (flavored or not)
Diet soda (if you have to)
If you’re being pressured into having an adult beverage, here are 3 tips:
Skip it. You’re a grown up capable of saying no.
Set a limit. (If your track record shows you can stick to it.)
Drink smarter. Pick low calorie options.
Drinks can easily range into the several hundreds of calories, meaning just a few could put you near your entire daily calorie limit. So be smart.
These pesky, yet irresistible finger foods are sometimes brought to your table, and sometimes set out buffet style.
Either way, it’s a trap. Here’s the plan:
Avoid mindlessly snacking on appetizers with the following tips.
1. Use a plate.
This way you’ll know how much you’re eating and won’t keep grabbing more.
2. Step away from the food.
Don’t hover. Make it inconvenient to reach for the apps.
3. Fill up on veggies first.
If you aren't sure the party will have a vegetable tray, offer to bring one.
This is the big one.
A little planning can be the difference between life and death. Actually, it’s not that serious. But to evade modest weight gain, here’s the plan:
Build a balanced plate by using the same hand guide we recommend year-round. Read the following tips and save the graphics for serving size reference.
Choose a lean meat if possible (turkey, bison, chicken, seafood, sirloin steak, pork).
Try to avoid veggies that are fried, smothered, or creamed. Or just get a smaller portion of them.
You can always offer to bring a salad or side dish of veggies if you’re attending a party at a host’s home.
Look for rice, baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, quinoa, or other whole grains.
Avoid or limit pastas, dumplings, fried egg rolls, and breads. (Mashed potatoes aren’t bad but they tend to have a ton of added butter and cream, so they’re not the best choice either.)
*Holiday trickery: cranberry sauce falls into the carb category, sorry folks. You’re best bet is to add a small, reasonable amount to your turkey.
Typically you’d need 1 thumb sized portion of fat for women (2 for men), but since most holiday foods have plenty of fats already, you don’t need to add more to your plate.
Instead, limiting fats, such as the following, will be priority:
Excess salad dressing
Skin from the turkey
The holidays are a time when everyone likes to bake their best sweets, usually offering several choices. Here’s the plan:
Allow yourself a treat, but stick to the following tips.
Just pick one. Don’t try them all.
Share half your dessert. (Even if it’s with the trash can.)
Bring your own “healthier” option. (Like this one.)
Don’t finish it if it’s not as good as you’d hoped.
Quick & Dirty Guide
If you want an easier approach, stick to these two rules:
1. The “one plate” rule.
You can have whatever you want, but it MUST all fit on a single plate. One and done. (This idea came from Syatt Fitness, and we like it because it’s so easy.)
2. Don’t go on an empty stomach.
Before you head out for your party, have a small meal. Just enough to prevent you from eating everything in sight.
Keep In Mind
You don’t have to remember all of this. Pick (ahead of time) which strategies will work best for you in your situation and do your best.
If you end up ignoring all of this advice, it’s not the end of the world.
Enjoy the holiday season and go a little overboard. You won’t gain as much weight as you think (see last year’s Holiday blog to see how many pounds most people put on).
Even if you do gain WEIGHT, what really matters for your HEALTH is how you eat the rest of the year anyway.
Which strategies will you use?