It is the time for holiday parties and all the family and friends that go with them. There are some landmines to avoid with family and friends, and we’ll focus on those next week. For now, let’s look at some ways to curb some of our holiday indulgences related to food.
The turkey itself isn’t usually too bad. The holiday ham, vegetables laden with butter, and creamy mashed potatoes and dressing though…that’ll get you. Not to mention the dessert table and the availability of really good wine and alcohol. (Christmas seems to bring out the “top shelf” stuff.)
So how do you avoid all of pitfalls? How do you keep those four pounds at bay without your friends thinking your life is devoid of the joy that comes from Christmas?
There is the adage that moderation is key. Try on these tips though for something a bit more concrete:
Choose your calories wisely. This means you give the meal some thought before wading into it. Although my husband would heartily disagree, you don’t have to have mashed potatoes and dressing. You might opt for just one of those on your plate. You can skip the gravy too unless it is that divine giblet gravy that my grandmother has made every year since the dawn of my time. There should be a rule about that silky concoction!
If you make it through the actual meal without feeling too bad: move! That’s right. Go away from the food laden table. Sit by the fire, read the nephew a book, or find a piece of gum and start gathering up dishes. The longer you stay near the food, the more inclined you’ll be toward grazing on it. It also takes a bit for the message of fullness to go from your digestive tract to your brain, so don’t immediately get seconds of that brown sugar crusted sweet potato casserole. Give your gut a bit to determine if you’re actually full.
Make sure that your exercise routine isn’t abandoned during the holidays too. The physical activity is good for reducing anxiety, but it also helps you work off some of those extra calories.
Parties also have some issues to navigate. Everything in our house centers around our kitchen, especially when our friends are gathered there. The close proximity to food just invites excess. You can avoid some of this by eating a snack before you head out to those holiday parties. There’s no need to be Scarlett O’Hara and gorge yourself just so people think you eat like a fashionable bird. A piece of cheese and slice of turkey would work just fine.
Alcohol consumption is also something to avoid or at least minimize. There are two tips for this. First, don’t drink in excess. The holidays are a wonderful time, and you should be making good memories not nursing a hangover and trying to remember what you did. Also, choose your beverage with care; this includes those without alcohol too. Eggnog, although I love it, is a huge caloric hit for such a small quantity. If I’m going to use up some calories on a magic cookie bar, I’ll probably skip the alcohol altogether and drink tea. If you do decide to have a glass of wine or beer, alternate it with a glass of water.
You can find more tips about holiday eating by reading Patrick Skerrett’s 12 tips for holiday eating at Harvard Health.