… “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping on your nose…”, as you “deck the hall with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la. Tis the season to be jolly…”
Yup, it’s holiday party time and there’s plenty of food and drink to consume, which means, ‘you better watch out… I’m telling you why’, extra pounds are coming to town! OK… no more song and dance. Instead, my goal is to help you avoid the holiday mindset of eating your way from one holiday party to the next. Of course, this is easy to do because many of these holiday parties are scheduled around normal meal times such as 3pm or 7pm making it hard to manage your usual eating schedule. Here are some easy to follow strategies and practical tools to pack in your “Holiday Eating Survival Guide” so you feel nourished and joyful at the same time.
Before you Go:
Step 1. Drink… Water. Often times when our body is not properly hydrated we are fooled into feeling hungry instead, when all we really need is to drink a few cups of water. This is especially important during the winter months when we are exposed to cold outdoor and warm indoor dry air, which contributes to evaporative water loss from our body. To maintain hydration and curb those ghost hunger feelings, I recommend drinking adequate fluid throughout the day with special attention to fluid intake two hours before your first party. Aim to consume 24 ounces of water or decaffeinated, unsweetened tea starting two hours before by drinking 4 ounces (1/2 cup) every 20 minutes. This way, you will arrive properly hydrated with your hunger in check.
Step 2. Protein Power. The most important strategy to quench hunger is to eat a small portion of healthy, lean protein (20 gram serving of protein is all you need). My favorites are: 6 ounces of plain, lowfat greek yogurt or cottage cheese with some fresh berries; 3 deviled eggs using hummus in place of the yolk; a scoop of protein powder (whey, soy, or pea) containing 20 grams of protein mixed with water and ice cubes; or 3 ounces of fish, chicken or turkey with a few veggie sticks (carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, etc.). And get this —each of these protein-packed snacks are only slightly above 100 calories so they will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished so you don’t overindulge! Plan to eat this protein super snack 30 minutes before heading out the door.
Step 3. Bring it! I don’t mean an attitude, I mean your own healthy appetizer or dessert. This way you stay in control and will have something healthy to eat regardless of other food at the party, and best of all, you take part in the giving spirit of the holidays. Healthy appetizers include: black bean hummus (see my recipe below) or (black bean) salsa with whole grain pita wedges; pasture-fed poultry and beef skewers with sesame dip; or fresh vegetable and fruit platter with greek yogurt dip. Be creative, and think tasty, healthy protein as your main item.
At the Party:
Step 4. Use your Hand not your Head! What I mean by this is take emotion away from eating and have a “go to” tool in your Survival Kit that is always with you to prevent overeating — your hand. The “hand tool” is the most helpful strategy of all when an abundance of holiday food is staring us down and tempting us to lose control. Your hand can be used to monitor and control portion sizes and ultimately, food intake. Here’s how it works… The size of your palm is the amount of appetizers you are allowed, but feel free to stack fresh veggies and fruit to the height of your fist. Your ring and pinky fingers are used for your dessert, either a small slice of pie or cake or a couple of holiday cookies; and finally your remaining three fingers, thumb, index and middle finger are used for holding your glass of holiday cheer!
If nothing else, this will leave you singing ‘Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, And since we’ve no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Tis the season!