Temptation is all around during the holiday season: shortbread cookies, eggnog, cheese platters, and more. And this makes sticking to your healthy diet tougher than usual. Of course, having one buttery canape won’t kill your diet (it’s all about balance, right?) but you know how it goes: with it in front of you, you may devour the whole plate of them! Or pick at the spread of food while sipping cocktails all night, when you weren’t even hungry to begin with.
So to help you survive the party circuit without making those leather leggings way too tight come 2013, some strategies of my own and of some health experts.
Be mindful of what you’re eating
Yes, this is easier said than done. But it’s something I try to do on a regular basis at the events I attend for work. I was finding with day after day of events and parties where there are appetizers being served, I was often just taking the food and eating it without thinking about it. And I remember actually having a moment where it occurred to me, “I don’t even like this cupcake, why am I eating it?” Now, I try my best to ask myself first if what is being offered on the tray is something I truly want to eat (and if I’m even hungry for it) before I take it. And if I take a bite of something and I’m not enjoying it, I don’t finish it just to be polite.
Enjoy a glass of water now and then
There’s something about a party atmosphere where you just feel more comfortable when you’ve got a glass in your hand, right? I like my bubbly but to ensure I don’t drink too much (empty calories and all), I’ll have the occasional glass of water (you can aim for alternating your cocktail with water). Plus, drinking water will help you feel full (so you’ll be less tempted by the other sweet and savoury items being served).
Registered dietitian Michelle Saraiva of GetRealGurls Nutrition uses the same trick, only she mixes her beverage with water. “Alcohol is in abudance over the holidays so I mix sparkling water with wine and fruit or lime to make spritzers. This cuts back on the cals and it also helps me stay hydrated!” she says.
Bring a healthy dish to share
If you’re hungry and at a party and there’s only pigs in a blanket to eat, well, then you’re in a bit of a bind. Consider bringing something nutritious to a potluck so you don’t have to resort to the salt- and sugar-laden foods. “I always bring a veggie or fruit tray to holiday potluck parties to make sure there is a healthy option there for me (and others) to munch on!” says registered dietitian April Saunders, who works with Saraiva at GetRealGurls Nutrition.
Don’t focus on the main holiday meal
Registered dietitian Dara Gurau suggests not stressing about the big Christmas dinner or the plethora of latkes at your Hannukah meal. “Instead plan the days leading up top and after these big meals. Focus your meals on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and drink lots of water,” she says. This way you don’t have to feel guilty when it comes to enjoying your holiday favourites, she says.