As the holidays approach, so does the nervousness over holiday parties. We think to ourselves, “I will NOT eat any junk food…I will only eat one bite…just this one dessert…oh, what the hell, it’s the holidays after all!" And then comes January, along with the pounds and the terrible guilt.
Holiday gatherings do not need to be a dreaded event where your only choices are being a social outcast or gorging on every food in sight.
Here are 6 Tips to Party Healthy.
1. Eat before hand. You heard right. Have something to eat before going out. I always eat before leaving the house – some protein, or a handful of almonds, for example. Making sure you are not hungry when you arrive to a party makes it more likely that you will be able to avoid snacks and treats because you won’t be starving and you can fill up on something nutritious. After all, you are there to enjoy the company, not to use a party as an excuse to overindulge.
2. Limit your alcohol to 1 drink. Red wine is best due to the antioxidant health benefits, but all alcohol is unnecessary calories. Bring your own Organic Wine to share so you have a sulfide free drink you can enjoy and share! If you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, remember, a sparkling water with a wedge of lime looks like a vodka tonic.
3. Don’t fill up on Appetizers. If there is a fruit and vegetable tray, go ahead and load up! This will keep your fingers busy and keep your mouth crunching, and you can avoid nibbling on pre-packaged appetizers that are highly processed, high in sodium and high in unhealthy fats. Avoid even the mixed nuts bowls, as pre-packaged nut mixes contain added sugar and preservatives, and are highly salted.
4. Bring a healthy dish to pass. Never show up empty handed :) Bring along some fresh fruit or a healthy dessert alternative as a dish to pass. This way you have a treat you can enjoy that won’t throw your health and fitness goals off track. Plus, no one needs to know your dish is extra healthy. If they ask, let them know, otherwise you will be surprised how many people find your dish delicious!
5. Say “No Thank You” to Cookies, Cake and Pie. Consider if dessert is worth it. If there is a fresh fruit option, or a small, bit sized dessert, and you want to treat yourself, go ahead. If all they offer is pie and cake, you can share a piece, but I say skip it entirely. Remember, it’s OK to say “No Thank You” to dessert.
These are calories you do not need. Anything made from refined white sugar and refined white flour is not clean eating and will not help you reach your goals. Still want a treat? After all, it IS a holiday party. Bring your own healthy (preferably sugar free) treat to share.
6. Lead by Example. You may be confronted and questioned, (yes, even teased a little, brush it off) about your diet. Simply try to give your friends and family honest, and informative reasons for the choices you are making regarding your health and nutrition without belittling or berating them about their own decisions. Share your personal experiences- what have you found most difficult or most inspirational/enjoyable, how has changing your nutrition affected your health in a positive way, is there a “can’t live without” recipe you just HAVE to email them?
Many will notice your positive physical changes if it has been a while since they have seen you and they may even want to know your “secret”. Share!
Tips to avoid sugary treats.
Often, avoiding sugary treats is a mental game. We spend a great deal of time talking ourselves into eating cookies, cakes and desserts.
First: Remind yourself, this is not “food”. I will not feel good after I eat this. Refined flour and refined white sugar are not good for me and will not benefit my body in any way.
Second: Don’t sample everything. Taking a bite of everything can add up quicker than you would think. Take a moment to survey the table and see what’s offered. Then do your best to pick the cleanest food available.
Third: You are not a dog, don’t reward yourself with food. It’s your choice, but if you want to reward yourself with a little treat, you would be better off having some fresh fruit, which contains fiber and nutrients your body actually needs.
If you will be celebrating at a restaurant, here are my 10 Tips to Dining Out Healthy.
1. Check out the menu online in advance so you know your options ahead of time. Show up with a plan. This way you won’t cave in to the deep fried, cheesy and buttery options that will derail your fitness goals.
2. Eat before hand. You heard right. Have something to eat before going out. By the time you drive to the location, get seated, order and finally get served, you are usually looking at about 1 hr, so I suggest eating something healthy before going to dinner. Some protein, or a handful of almonds, for example. This will guarantee you fill up on something nutritious, NOT the bread basket. Plus you won’t be STARVING when ordering, letting your stomach make unhealthy choices due to hunger, and gobbling down a huge portion of a meal because you are letting your senses, not your sense make your food choices.
3. Say “No Thank You” to the bread basket. These are calories you do not need. Anything made from refined white flour is not clean eating and will not help you reach your goals.
4. Limit your alcohol to 1 drink. Red wine is best due to the antioxidant health benefits, but all alcohol is unnecessary calories.
5. You don’t NEED an appetizer. Following tip #1 means you will not be starving once you arrive to the restaurant, so don’t fill up on an appetizer. Most appetizers are deep fried or loaded with other unnecessary fats. Unless you plan on eating a healthy appetizer as your meal due to the small portion size, an appetizer plus your meal is too large a portion size, especially the HUGE portion sizes restaurants serve.
6. Watch out for “Hidden Calories” and Excess Sodium. Ask for sauces, dressings and toppings to be served “on the side.” Restaurants love to add lots of butter, sugar and extra salt to EVERYTHING, easily adding a few 100 calories to your meal and making otherwise healthy meals, not so healthy. If it isn’t noted on the menu, always ask if a cream or butter sauce is used to prepare a meal. If so, either choose a different item, or ask if you can have your meal prepared without butter/sauce or salt. Waiter’s and Chef’s are used to individuals with food allergies, and people on special “diets” so go ahead and ask. Bring your own sea salt if you like a little salt added to your meal. This way you can control the amount of sodium you are consuming. Plus if you are sitting in a booth, no one will even notice you sprinkling it on.
7. Avoid fried, battered or breaded. Instead opt for grilled, baked, or steamed.
8. Opt for the healthier side dish, i.e. veggie medley instead of mashed potatoes, black beans instead of refried beans, or swap brown rice for white rice if available. Remember to ask for salad dressing on the side and your vegetables to be prepared without butter/cream/salt. Ask for a vinegar dressing on the side if choosing a salad and bring your own sea salt if you want a little salt on your side dish.
9. Portion Control. Ask for the “To Go” box right away. Restaurants are famous for humungous portion sizes, so put at least half your portion in the “To Go” box right away to keep from over eating.
10. Skip Dessert. You are not a dog, don’t reward yourself with food. Consider if dessert is worth it. If there is a fresh fruit option, or a small, bit sized dessert, and you want to treat yourself, go ahead. If all they offer is pie and cake, you can share a piece, but I say skip it entirely. Remember, it’s OK to say “No Thank You” to dessert.
If you know someone who who is looking for healthy holiday tips, please share this post.
Contributing Writer, Holly Brown - ConsiderMeFit.com