Holiday time is all about gorging, enjoying and later repenting. But if you want to prevent your waistline from expanding and regretting the adipose add ons, then here are some wonderful tips.
Food is an important part of festivities but the key is to avoid the binge. This is the season to splurge, not on endless trays of fudge and cookies, but rather on the real meaning of the holidays — enjoying the company of others. A third helping of stuffing won't satisfy your soul and build memories like holding grandpa's hand during the Super Bowl or the belly laughs with your sister in the kitchen.
How do we put that philosophy into practice?
Instead of a sit-down gorge session or appetizer trays the size of the White House Christmas tree, invite family and friends over at a non-eating time such as mid-afternoon or late evening. Serve a beverage and a few low-calorie snacks. Then, consider any of the following as ways to spend more time with loved ones:
Cruise through the neighborhood in search of the best holiday decorations.
- Take in a holiday movie, like "It's a Wonderful Life."
- Caroling, either at a nursing home or through the neighborhood.
- Sledding, tobogganing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
- A tree-trimming or house decorating party, complete with stringing popcorn and cranberries, armfuls of holly, and mistletoe.
- A wreath-making party with wire hoops, strips of wire, and lots of scotch pine, white pine, fir, cedar bows, holly, rhododendron, berries, pine cones, and fox wood.
What about other people's parties?
Decide to attend only the most valuable parties; you don't have to say "yes" to every invitation. Once you're in, sample foods that are special or unique to the holidays and bypass the everyday goodies.
Remember, it's the first bite that counts. Also, the longer you take to eat, the fuller you'll feel, so you'll be less likely to pile on seconds. If you find yourself overeating at a party, try to get away from the food. Park your silverware in the middle of your plate so it gets messy from gravy or dressing. You won't want to touch it again. Taking a tour of the house, admiring the decorations, or stepping outside may also help to break the overeating cycle.
When 'NO' just won't do!
Before a social event, rehearse how you'll handle offers for food you don't want. Try, "No, thanks, I'd love to have more but I'm full" or "It was delicious but I've already had plenty."
Skipping meals to save room- Many people skip meals in an effort to save calories this time of year, but are ravenous at holiday parties. Instead, keep yourself on a schedule by stocking the kitchen with low-fat munchables and eating a nutritious light breakfast and lunch the day of a social event. Always have a light snack, like a salad, fruit, cheese and crackers, or a fruit smoothie before a holiday gathering to take the edge off your appetite.
Knowing your booze limits- To save yourself from hundreds of calories, switch from light beer or wine to sparkling water; grab a diet cola and you'll save up to 300 calories; or sip on iced tea instead of hot buttered rum. Don't drink and you'll be amazed how much you'll learn about your friends and co-workers who are drinking!
How to handle the buffet table during the holidays?
- Eat whatever you want, but take half your typical portion.
- Limit yourself to one turn at the buffet table.
- Avoid desserts for the next three days.
- Stand somewhere other than by the buffet table.
- Listen to your body and eat when you're hungry.
Smart appetizers when planning a holiday cocktail party
Toasted crostini with brie, spicy shrimp, and peach chutney
Thai-grilled prawns with coconut dipping sauce
Baked bruschetta with Mediterranean marinara and goat cheese
Asparagus with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon
Mini crab cakes with garlic chili sauce
Fruit kabobs to serve with fruit fondue
What to do if you do overeat
You can help prevent fat from becoming a permanent fixture by taking a brisk walk, a bike ride, or a hike the next day, or schedule an extra one-hour aerobic workout session during the week.