How many people do you know that roll into New Year after their Christmas break, resembling one of the turkeys they ate over their break? So many people spend months trying watch what they eat and in the short Christmas break, they’ve thrown it all out the window and it’s back to the drawing board. Well not this year!
Now is the time to put a new mindset in place. This new way of thinking means you will be eating differently out of a respect for yourself, you will enjoy feeling full but not sickly stuffed. How will you feel come the 1st of January knowing that you remain lighter than this time last year and you have really turned a corner in your relationship to food? Now is the most important time of the year to show to yourself that you really have turned a corner. Follow these tips to help keep the new mindset on track.
Do some pre-holiday planning
Decide ahead of time how you will handle the different events of the season. For non-festive days, plan healthy meals, and get some exercise every day.
Eat a snack before going to a party
Have yogurt or fruit, a few crackers with low-fat cheese or vegetables, so hunger won’t rule your choices.
No need to do without your favourite foods, just take small portions and eat slowly; that way you’ll eat less and savour more. A small taste can satisfy your craving.
Let your eyes feast first
Before eating, see what is being served. If there are raw vegetables or plain seafood, start with those, to take the edge off your appetite.
Avoid guilty pleasures
Avoid what you can have anytime, such as chocolates or chips,
and go with seasonal favourites such as rum-drenched fruitcake. Enjoy, but keep your portions small.
Stand far away from the buffet table
Once you’ve chosen food, take your plate into another room and enjoy calorie-free talk with friends. Make one trip to the buffet, and be selective.
At a cocktail party
Hold your drink in your right hand if you are right-handed (or left hand if you’re a lefty): It will make it more difficult to reach for food on impulse.
At a sit-down dinner, eat slowly
Put your cutlery down between bites and chew thoroughly. Talk between bites, so your meal will last longer. Split your dessert with someone else.
Be the designated driver
Have one alcoholic drink (make it something you really enjoy) and, for the rest of the evening, choose drinks such as sparkling water or juice with soda.
When it comes to beverages, watch those extra calories.
A glass of white wine is 100 calories, a beer is 150, a martini has about 195 calories, and a glass of Scotch has 100 calories. As for mixers, juice and pop contain anywhere between 110 and 150 calories per cup, whereas soda water or diet drinks have virtually no calories.
If you’re invited to a friend’s house,
Take a potted plant, candles or some nice soap instead of candy or other goodies.
Plan tempting, yet healthy, substitutions
Grilled shrimp versus deep fried; fresh vegetables with low-fat dips rather than nachos; salsa instead of a creamy dip; lettuce wraps versus egg rolls; chicken satay, not wings; ginger snaps instead of shortbread; sushi, not sausage rolls.
Lighten-up your favourite recipes
Use skim milk instead of whole milk in mashed potatoes; use herbs, lemon and light vinaigrette to flavour foods, instead of gravy, butter, margarine or cream sauces; take skin off turkey and de-fat gravy before you serve it. Cut the carbs from stuffing by using less bread and more vegetables and/or fruit. Add extra vegetables to your holiday dinner.
If you bake cookies
Bake in advance, freeze them so they are beyond the reach of temptation, and bring them out only when you need them.
Chew a piece of sugar-free gum while cooking or baking
This will help to stop mindless nibbling; when you chew gum, you’re less likely to put something else in your mouth.
If you are serving cheeses
Try to include some lower-fat varieties, such as some goat cheese, Cantenaar or low-fat Cheddar or Havarti. Serve them with whole wheat, low-fat, unsalted crackers. When eating cheese, slice or spread it thinly.
If you buy ready-made appetizers,
Be sure to read the nutritional information for the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat choices.
After the party
Send leftovers home with friends, or package them into meals and freeze for later.
Help guests eat mindfully.
At a party, put out smaller plates (we tend to fill larger plates with more food). Serve nibbles from smaller dishes. At a dinner party, pre-portion food rather than having guests serve themselves.
Out of sight, out of mind
Whether it’s holiday cookies on the kitchen counter or a box of chocolates lying around at the office, the best way to prevent eating treats is to put them out of reach and out of sight.
Focus on activity, not on food
Start your own family traditions by planning get-togethers around activities, instead of meals. While a meal is quickly forgotten, a fun event will be remembered for years to come, and may burn calories e.g. a trip to the beach or bowling.
Exercise the morning of the Christmas party. Expend more calories on the days you will be eating and drinking more calories. I say the morning because then you are less likely to get distracted by other things such as last minute Christmas shopping.
Exercise on Christmas day
I bet you never slept in on Christmas day as a kid, so why now? Wake up early and go for a lovely run 30mins before the festivities begin. It’s such a great way to start the day (even if you’re hung over).
Observe your overweight colleagues versus the slim ones
Ouch, this sounds harsh. We’re not asking you to look down your nose and judge anyone. But if you have made a choice to be a certain way (and there is no right or wrong, it’s completely up to you) observe others who have made the same choice. If you chose to lead a ‘slim’ life observe how the other slim people operate throughout the season.
Give guilt a vacation
It’s just another holiday stress. If you overeat, don’t worry; you’ll have lots of time in the New Year to get back on track. And remember to take care of yourself. Eat smart, stay active, get enough sleep and enjoy a healthy holiday.
There you have it. Be good, and if you can’t be good, be careful. Merry Christmas, everyone.