Have a blast, actually eat, and stay on track.
The holidays are here, and with it comes holiday parties. As much as I look forward to hanging with pals and getting all yule tide-y, I struggle so hard when it comes keeping myself in check when it comes to my diet. (Note: I’m using the term diet to mean my eating habits, not any sort of structured diet plan. I’m all about moderation.)
My weakness: white flour-based treat. Crackers, tortilla chips, cookies? Give it all to me, and save me seconds. This only gets worse if there’s alcohol involved, at which point my willpower plummets.
So what do I do to combat this? If I have a party on the books, I follow a few guidelines:
- Eat before. And I mean a full, proper meal. (A satisfying, healthy one. Now is not the time to hit The Cheesecake Factory before the party.) Don’t do that thing where you “leave room” in case you want to hit the treat table. Chances are, you’re going to have a cookie. Or a few chips. But if you’ve got a satisfied stomach, you’re much less likely to go back for seconds, thirds, etc.
- All the water, all the time, especially during the party. Jazz it up: sparkling with a little lime is one of my jams. Staying hydrated not only keeps you from confusing thirst with hunger, but it also takes that up stomach room a half dozen or so pieces of butterscotch fudge are vying for.
- If you’re drinking alcohol, that‘s your cheat food. We all know about the empty calories in alcohol. Minimize the damage by sticking to wine or light beer rather than sugary or creamy mixed drinks. And you’ve got a full stomach from dinner (right?), so you shouldn’t be (too) tempted to reach for snacks.
- If you do eat, load up your plate with veggies, fruit, or other healthy offerings. Do this before grabbing that cookie, handful of chips, or a scoop of amazing-but-really-dangerous dip. You’re trying to offset the sugar and empty calories by maxing out on the good for you options.
- If you’re craving the cookie, eat the cookie. Completely denying yourself only intensifies a craving. So have a little something of what you’ve been eying for the past hour– after you’ve loaded up on healthy stuff, of course.
Your job becomes even easier if you’re the one hosting the holiday party. Simply buy healthy stuff and limit (or nix) the unhealthy dishes. When I’m hosting, I load up on veggie trays, hummus, fruit, etc. If someone offers to bring something, suggest something fresh + that doesn’t break the calorie bank. If he/she insists on bringing German chocolate-whatever or a few dozen snickerdoodles, let ’em. Just try to steer clear of it until it’s been completely picked over.
Note: I’m not shaming anyone for taking a cheat day. Do your thing– enjoy. There are certainly times I’ve done that: splurged at a party and jumped back on track the next morning. (Or better yet, fasted the next day to balance things out. Read more about intermittent fasting here and here.) But I usually approach the busy holiday party season with a, “Let’s mitigate and manage,” MO.
What are your tips and tricks for playing it straight with your diet during the holidays?