Cookies, brownies, candy, cakes, muffins, donuts, cream puffs, pies, cupcakes, stuffed turkeys, dressings, gravy, wine, beer, scotch, eggnog, sodas, lattes, you name it, the holidays have come up with it! With the holidays just around the corner, we are being bombarded by nothing but unhealthy food choices. And if you’re a health nut or just looking for ways to stay healthy around the holidays when all of this junk food is (literally) stuffed down your throat, you will want to read this article. I have, what I call, five “tricks” to surviving the holidays without gaining 50 pounds, and without depriving yourself either. Read on friends…
Attending holiday parties and staying on your healthy diet is tough (to say the least) when you are hungry, craving sweets, and surrounded by a plethora of items which intensify these desires. Believe it or not, I am human too and struggle with this every year. Dang it, vanilla chai latte with a double pump of sweetener and a homemade chocolate chip cookie on the side, I loathe you! When I attend parties and gatherings, here are the things I do which help me stay in control, but without depriving myself:
1- Do not arrive to the festivities with an empty stomach. This is probably the most obvious, but when we are mentally preparing for these parties, all we can usually think of is how hungry we are and how much we cannot wait to dig in! And we absolutely know there is going to be lots of food available to us. Therefore, we often show up with an empty stomach and ready to eat. So prepare yourself by having a healthy and somewhat filling snack before you show up to that huge buffet. My favorites are almonds, organic whole milk yogurt with nuts and berries, or a smoothie.
2- Stick with protein and veggies as your first helping (because we all know you’re going back for more). My first plate of food at an event usually consists of turkey, salad, and green beans, or whatever protein and veggie options are available. After following trick #1 and eating your first plate of protein and veggies, you should be pretty full and less likely to a) stuff yourself, and b)reach for the heavy carb-filled foods. So far, you’re on the right track!
3- Now you want dessert to balance that salt with a little sweet right? Of course! Well my third “trick” to surviving the holidays is, DO NOT DEPRIVE YOURSELF. Yes, you heard me right. If I were you, I would take a small plate and grab two of your favorite desserts, two that you absolutely could not live without. These two desserts should be the very two you have had your eye on since you arrived and scoped out the scene. If you do not eat these two desserts my friend, you are looking at a long night of craving them. And not only will you crave them, but you will eat about a dozen other desserts instead, in an attempt to stop yourself from craving them. Do not do this to yourself! Just eat what it is you want, your craving will be satisfied, and you will be full and happy.
4- Holiday beverages, and I’m talking about alcohol, are fine compliments to a delicious holiday dinner. If you are one who likes to enjoy a cocktail, I would stick with the ones listed here. Wine is my favorite. It is natural, gluten free, and has heart healthy properties, especially if you are drinking red. Nothing like some natural holiday cheer! If you are not a wine drinker, vodka is a good option. It is low in sugar, it is gluten free, and nice to sip on throughout the evening. I mix mine with club soda (not pop, which has added unnecessary sugar and chemicals) and squeeze a lemon or lime into it for flavor. I usually advise people to stay away from beer in general, as the grains it is made of are genetically modified most of the time, create inflammation in the body, and often cause bloating and gas. A better option would be a hard cider if it is available. These are usually made with fruit as opposed to grains, which are much less inflammatory.
5- My final trick is, have the understanding that the holidays are times for love, laughter, and celebration. Do not be too hard on yourself during this time. In other words, try not to be so strict with your regimen that you start to feel miserable and not have any fun. If you want a dessert, have a cookie. If you want a cocktail, enjoy a couple and the fun social time it brings. The key is not to overdo it by eating 10 cookies and a 12 pack of Bud Light all by yourself at every party! Balance is important. So enjoy your family and friends, and be kind to yourself. And if you feel as though you have overindulged at any point, don’t sweat it! Encourage yourself by understanding that there will be more holidays and more events, in which case you will achieve the balance that is right for you.
Contributor: Andrea MacLaughlin – Hair Designer / Health Advocate