’Tis the season when every social gathering seems destined to fatten us like geese intended for foie gras. But if you’d rather not enter the new year with tighter jeans, here are 10 strategies to help you survive.
No, I’m not going to suggest you consume only black coffee and celery sticks at your next party. Food is definitely part of the fun!
These tips will help you choose your calories wisely, enjoy goodies in moderation, and sidestep that one-pound weight gain researchers say most people will carry into the new year.
1. Eat something filling before the festivity. Sometimes we’re tempted to starve ourselves before a party, figuring we’ll bank all our calories till then. Bad idea. You’re much more likely to eat moderately if you’re not fainting with hunger. So have some soup or salad along with lean protein (turkey, chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, tofu, etc.) a few hours beforehand.
2. Don’t stand next to the food. The easier it is to get to the calories, the more we tend to nosh. Choose what you want, then head for a lively crowd that’ll keep you talking and laughing.
3. Save your drinking till you’ve eaten. Boozing is notorious for weakening your resolve around food. Once you’ve had your snacks or your meal, get rid of your plate—then enjoy your beverage. And make it a lower-calorie option: wine, a champagne spritzer, or a beer instead of eggnog or spiked punch.
4. Focus on foods that get a green light. Enjoy all the raw veggies and fruits you want. And have a portion of roast turkey (minus the skin), lean beef or pork (with fat trimmed), fish, shrimp, or other yummy proteins prepared without a lot of fat.
5. Proceed with caution when it comes to nuts and cheese. They’re packed with nutrition but carry a lot of fat calories.
6. Avoid red-light offerings. The foods highest in fat and calories include chips, crisps, and anything else fried; dishes swimming in cream, gravy, or butter; dips, dressings, and spreads; pastries; and bacon, sausages, and other processed meats.
7. Pick your indulgence. Scan the table piled with food, decide which are the healthiest options, and then choose one special morsel you’ll really enjoy. Fill most of your plate with low- and moderate-calorie foods and one small but delectable treat. Eat it slowly and savor every bite.
8. Select a less-damaging dessert. If you want to splurge on a sweet, choose one or two small cookies or a perfect piece of dark chocolate rather than a gooey, fat-laden cake.
9. Bring your own. Worried there won’t be anything nutritious to eat? Offer to bring a dish or two to add to the feast. Chances are good that other guests will appreciate the healthy options too.
10. Don’t succumb to all-or-nothing thinking. If you end up eating too much at a holiday party, don’t beat yourself up. We women tend to moralize about our eating behavior, and if we decide we’ve been “bad,” we’re tempted to think, “My diet is shot to hell, so I may as well finish that giant bag of chips.”
Give yourself credit for noticing the discrepancy between your intentions and the outcome, and think about what you might do differently next time. Try not to view the event as a failure but a learning experience that can lead to success.
Wishing you a merry Christmas!