Tomorrow is a big day in the United States. Whether you are from the U.S. or elsewhere, there are likely to be a lot of holiday events for you over the next few weeks. From family dinners to office parties, there is really no way to escape it.
Holidays and parties are some of the biggest causes of stress and weight gain concern. They can certainly pull us off of our plans. But if you have a strategy going in, you can still enjoy some indulgence and fun.
- Have a game plan: Are you going to a cocktail party? Is this an appetizer party? Know what is going on before you walk in the door. Map it out in your head. “I will have one cocktail and one small plate.” By deciding before you go in, you are much more likely to stick to your wellness plan.
- Call ahead: Are you going out to dinner? Look up where you are going. Call and ask about specials. Look at the menu ahead of time. Go in knowing what would work with your plan and already set to choose your meal. If you go in with an idea, it is much easier to avoid wavering on decisions. This can be especially difficult when you hear other people’s orders and start to think that if they can do it, you should too. While you might feel like you are short changing yourself at the time, once you have eaten, you will feel satisfied and not leave feeling guilty about your decisions.
- Don’t Assume. Bring Something. This is a great plan for Thanksgiving and other get togethers. Don’t assume that you will get there and see things that work with your healthy living. Consider making a veggie platter and a large salad for the dinner portion. Fill your appetizer platter with veggies and load your dinner plate with salad and you will fill your belly without the guilt.
- You can have a little bit of everything but not all of everything. Sometimes when we look at a buffet and consider all of the things we can’t have, we get overwhelmed and then eat everything in epic proportions. Instead, take one dinner plate and fill it with small helpings off each side and entree that you like. Don’t go overboard. Several bites of each delicious treat will leave you satisfied more than you realize.
- Stick to a one plate rule: During holiday dinners and meals plan on sticking to one plate. Pick what you would like but leave the buffet knowing that this is your meal. Don’t go back for seconds.
- Avoid loading up on bread: Bread always looks so tasty. Restaurants often offer bread in “all you can eat” occasions because they know it will fill you up. If you can skip the additional carbs, you can allow yourself to enjoy the other options. If you do decide to opt for bread, take a bite and savor it.
- Take a moment to consider how it tastes. Is it an incredibly delicious dinner roll that you get to enjoy on a rare occasion? Then go for it. Is it similar to bread that you eat for lunch? Toss it to the side and opt for something you don’t get to eat very often.
- Load up on veggies: You would be surprised to see that there are really so many healthy options on holiday menus. Sweat potatoes, corn, and beans are all loaded with vitamins and fiber. Skip the gravies and extra sauces. Avoid veggies that are laden with fat like green bean casseroles. Load your plate with veggies and then add in the extras.
- Before you get too excited decide if it is a rare treat.: Sometimes we go to a party and see pizza and feel like we “have to have it.” But the reality is, you can order pizza anytime you want. If you see a special item on the menu that someone made just for the occasion, that is a much better option. Analyze your options, decide what is truly special and worth it and then determine a healthy portion. Once you do, don’t go back.
- Do dessert but pick one and don’t go crazy.: Odds are that if you just ate at a holiday party, you had a nice filling meal. It’s still okay to have dessert. But scour the dessert options. Pick the one that is speaking to you the most and then try a half slice or portion. Take your time, savor the flavors, and then walk away satisfied with your full meal.
- Plan your day out: If you know that you are going to a holiday party later in the night, plan out how you will approach it. This could start with a light breakfast and then a walk to work. If you see donuts in the conference room, remind yourself that they are there all the time, but holiday parties come once a year. Skip the afternoon treats and enjoy the party later. Don’t forget to load up on plenty of water during the day.
- Make time for activities: Do a turkey trot, go for a family walk, play catch in the back yard. Remember that any activity is better than none. Exercise doesn’t need to be intentional. Move throughout the day. Organize a quick walk after your meal. The more you move, the better!
- Always remember that a lapse is not a relapse: Messing up once doesn’t mean your whole day, week, or month is over. No one eats perfectly and there is no perfect way to eat. Food is a very important part of our lives. It is a social, cultural, and wonderful thing. Have fun and enjoy yourself. If you overindulge, it does not mean you are a failure. You are human and tomorrow is another day!
How do you best prepare for holiday parties and get togethers? Do you have one thing that really messes up your healthy plan?