11 Tips for Surviving the Holidays
How to Survive the Holidays
The holiday season can be a stressful and tricky time to navigate, with many holiday parties and dinners to attend. It’s even scarier that the holiday season starts with Halloween and then doesn’t seem to stop until the new year!
First and foremost, remember that you want to enjoy your holiday season, and the parties - treats included - are part of that enjoyment. So practice moderation this holiday season. On regular days, or 80% of the time, keep up with you regular eating and physical activity plan. The other 20% of the time, don’t be too hard on yourself - enjoy yourself, live a little and allow yourself some tasty holiday treats!
One really important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not realistic to try to lose weight over the holidays. A more realistic goal is to try to maintain weight over the holidays.
Here are some tips that will help you get through the season while maintaining your healthy lifestyle a little more confidently.
Don’t Go to the Party Hungry
Many people skip meals leading up to a big holiday party because they think this will save them calories. But, this usually backfires because if you go to a party hungry you tend to eat way more than if you weren’t hungry when you arrived. Your best bet is to have a small, protein-rich snack about 30 minutes before you arrive to curb hunger. Some protein-rich snack ideas are: 1 babybel cheese + 4 crackers, 1-2 hard boiled eggs, ½ cup Greek Yogurt, ½ cup cottage cheese, pepperette, or 15 almonds. And don’t forget to eat breakfast and lunch on the day of the party too!
Watch Your Liquid Calories
All those sneaky liquids out there (think alcohol, eggnog, juices, fancy coffees, etc) that taste so good can really add up. Unfortunately, liquids don’t leave you feeling full like solid food does, so you can consume a lot more than you realize before feeling full. In addition to all of the drinks you may have, you still need to eat food. So those drinks can make a very big impact on your total intake.
So if you really want to enjoy that eggnog, the best bet is to have a glass and then drink lower-calorie or calorie-free drinks the rest of the evening. If you are planning to have more than one alcoholic drink at a party, then have a large glass of water between each drink. Another benefit to keeping a calorie-free drink in your hand is that it can help to prevent grazing once you have had enough to eat.
Scope Out Your Options
Filling your plate at a party can be challenging because there are often so many foods to choose from. Be cautious when you take a small amount of everything because you may end up with an overflowing plate, and then realize you really didn’t actually want everything. Instead, try scoping out what foods are being served before it’s time to eat. That way you will be able to plan to include only the foods that you really want on your plate.
Sometimes you may feel like you need to eat all of the food on your plate to be polite. Or maybe you’ve taken a bite of something you don’t love, but feel you need to eat the rest of it so that no one is offended. Well it’s okay to not finish your plate, and it’s also okay to just take one bite if you don’t love it! It’s not worth eating things that you don’t want. If you are still hungry, then get more of what you do like.
By eating slowly, you'll be able to savour and enjoy each tasty bite. Going slowly will help to reduce how much you eat by allowing the fullness signal from your stomach to reach your brain before you over do it and end up feeling too full.
Use A Smaller Plate
If you want to keep portion sizes smaller, then use a small appetizer or dessert plate. Don’t forget about protein and veggie options to help increase feelings of fullness. You can also ask a friend or family member to split a dessert with you if you’d rather eat a smaller portion than what’s available.
Once you have your food, move away from the food table. Go to another area of the party to mingle. If you stand too close to the food table, you increase the risk of grazing and overindulging because some foods can be so tempting to just grab another, even if you are full.
Learn to Say No!
Don’t let your well-meaning Grandma, or any other well-meaning family member, sabotage you! You know, when they innocently offer you second helpings of dinner or dessert, followed up by the guilt provoking “don’t you like it?” or “I made it especially for you”. Stand your ground and politely explain to them that you are satisfied with what you ate; it was delicious but you don’t want to eat any more.
You may find that you have to practice saying NO not only at family parties but other Holiday events as well. Most people who offer you food or drink are well-meaning and may be trying to be a gracious host. They probably won’t be offended if you politely decline what they are offering. Or, maybe they're just jerks! Either way - their problem, not yours.
Bring a Healthier Option
Many holiday dishes can be heavy on the fat and sugar content, but the good news is that recipes are meant to be modified if you want to. If you have the option to bring a food dish to the party, then plan to bring a healthier option that you enjoy. This can help you feel more in control of what’s available to eat since there will be at least one healthy dish you can include on your plate.
Manage Your Leftovers
If you are hosting a holiday get together and end up with more leftovers than you know what to do with, then do one of the following:
Donate any unopened packaged treats to the food bank
Freeze leftovers that are worth keeping for another meal
Throw out any leftovers you don't want (and don’t feel bad about it!)
Avoid leftovers in the first place by having guests bring them home
Try your best to stick with your normal exercise routine over the holidays. Even if you don’t have the time to exercise for as long or as often, try not to get away from it all together. Once you are out of the habit completely, it can be challenging to restart.
You can also look at other ways to incorporate some physical activity into your holiday schedule. Go outside and play in the snow with the kids. Get the whole family to go for a 10-20 minute walk after dinner. The bonus to walking after dinner is that it aids digestion and can boost energy after a large meal. If you're at a party then start dancing!
The Holidays Happen...
Whatever the holidays bring, don't get discouraged. If you get discouraged and upset it will likely allow some of what you are upset about to continue long after the holidays. Refocus and get back to your normal as soon as possible if you feel off track. See our upcoming blog in the new year for some tips to getting back on track.
Happy (insert your preferred holiday here)!
Adam, Sarah and Stephanie