How I wish that I had a holiday survival guide to get me through the holidays of years past! I don’t know about you but this time of year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the toughest time of year to get through and still stay on track with my healthy eating plan. One day of bingeing can easily lead into weeks and months of bad habits. But not this year! Because this year, we’re going to get our rears in gear and be PREPARED! Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Did you know that the average adult consumes about 3,000 calories in one Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Holy cow! That’s nearly double what most of us should eat in a day, never mind in one meal. So how do you go about eating smart without feeling deprived? Here are some great tips to keep you on target:
SURVEY THE LAY OF THE LAND: When you arrive at your destination, check out what’s on tap – at the bar and at the table. Ask what’s on the menu and begin to formulate a plan for what you want to eat and drink. Having multiple courses? Let’s break ’em down:
- SOUP: To reduce the number of calories, go for a broth-based soup over a creamy one. Or just skip the soup altogether if you’d prefer to save your calories during a different course.
- SALAD: Just because it’s filled with greens doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Stick with your non-starchy veggies and limit the added stuff (like eggs, meats, cheese, croutons) and get your dressing on the side.
- APPETIZER: This can be tough because we often think, “Well, it’s just a small bite” but before we know it, we’re 10 bites and hundreds of calories in. Make your (mini) selection and put them on a small plate then WALK AWAY from the table. Instead of dipping chips, dip your veggies.
- MAIN MEAL: Think of the MYPLATE method of filling your plate. Using a 9 inch plate (this is a salad plate, not a buffet plate), fill half of it with your non-starchy veggies first. On 1/4 of the other side of the plate, fill it with starches (potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato souffle, etc.) and the other 1/4 is for your lean protein. Keep in mind that one serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards.
- DESSERT: Yes, we all know that desserts offer very little in nutritive value… but if you’re into sweets like me, you know you ain’t just walking away! Your best bet here is to keep your portions small and savor every single bite. The slower you can eat your dessert, the more time your brain has to register the sweetness of it – which means you’re less likely to overindulge.
- BEVERAGES: If you can muster up the courage, try to stick with water as much as you can. Staying hydrated will reduce your cravings and will help to fill you up faster. Avoid sugary sodas and juices and if you must drink alcohol, go for skinny versions. Check out some low cal options HERE. Light beer, wine or wine spritzers, an ounce of spirits with a splash of calorie-free mixer, or champagne are also lighter options. And never drink on an empty stomach. The less of your wits you have about you, the more likely it is you’ll overindulge.
MASTER YOUR PORTIONS: One of the easiest ways to keep yourself in check is to use the MYPLATE method that I mentioned previously. You’ll be using a smaller plate, so the trick is to not pile your food high! Kinda defeats the purpose that way. There’s no measuring or time consuming thinking involved in this method which makes it perfect for your holiday gathering. Don’t forget, liquid calories count too so limit the number of high calorie beverages you consume and drink water or sparkling water in between. Fill your plate up with the healthiest options first and leave the less healthy choices last when there’s little room left on your plate.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Not only is what you eat and how much you eat important, but so is where you place yourself at the gathering. Hang out near the buffet table and guess what… you’ll be more likely to mindlessly eat. Park yourself next to your healthy friends who are more likely to make good food choices. Get involved in conversation but be aware of how fast you’re eating. Nibble and savor each bite. Pretend it’s foreplay without the sound effects (just making sure you’re still reading!!).
GET ACTIVE: Get your workout in before you head out for the day. Not only will you be more focused and more energized, but you’ll also be able to counterbalance any whoopsies you make at the dinner table. Want to get the whole family involved? Clear a space, pump up the volume, and bust a move on the dance floor! Nobody’s expecting a professional dance routine so just let your crazy fly! (or if you’ve been using Cize or Country Heat – show ’em how it’s done!)
PRACTICE FORGIVENESS: Holidays are a special occasion and yes, you’ll be more likely to overdo it then you would on any other day. So if your day doesn’t go quite as well as you had planned, let it go. Tomorrow is a brand new day to get back at it!
Be safe. Be healthy. Have fun!