Well that time is upon us, the season to eat, drink and be bloated. It’s December and we know what is coming. Countless Christmas parties, social gatherings and cocktail hours that fill up our calendar and fill up our bellies. I bet you are already wondering how you are going to manage staving off all those butter tarts, maple fudge squares and your mom’s world-class shortbread. It seems you just got into your pants comfortably again and now you are anxious about regaining the 15 pounds that took you all year to lose. We needn’t fret. Let’s enjoy a happy relaxing festive season using these four tips.
1. Never go to a party hungry. I know you have heard this before but some of still don’t heed the advice. Many of us try to “save” calories by not eating all day in case we overeat at the party. Going to a food gathering with an empty stomach usually means our blood-sugar is low compromising good decision-making. When our blood-sugar is low and our eyes catch glimpse of the buffet table, your brain will have you heading straight for the high-calorie, high-sugar, high-carb foods. The objective is to raise your blood-sugar in the shortest amount of time possible. Willpower will not win here. Those carrot sticks and red pepper slices aren’t going to do the trick fast enough. Eventually you will be reaching for the chip bowl or bread basket. Keeping a steady blood-sugar level throughout the day will assist you in making healthier choices and feeling satisfied faster.
2. Fill up a plate instead of picking at food all evening. Grab a SMALL plate and fill it up! Even pile it as high as you can! Your brain will register the image of a full plate but most importantly it will be more responsive to seeing an empty plate (than feeling a full stomach). When filling your plate, take your time and go through the buffet line once to take a peek what the options are before grabbing any food. That way you pick what you REALLY want. If you want to pick at food, then pick from your plate. It’s difficult to keep track of what we are putting in our mouth when we grab a few chicken wings here, a couple samosas there, and handfuls of poppycock and snack mix. Then we think we didn’t really eat much so we do another round at the table.
3. Choose food that involves chewing. I know it sounds ridiculous right? But if we can swallow food at lightning speed we are not going to truly enjoy it. That will prompt you to try it again and again. Before you know it you popped three or four mini-cream puffs in your mouth and you only remember eating the first one. Think about what it is like to eat a celery stick with hummus compared to a little cream puff. When we chew, we taste, we know we have ate something. There are foods you can put down the hatch without even putting your jaws together. It’s pretty hard to really savour these foods. We know they look good and should taste good but sometimes it takes two or three tries to really taste them. Was it really worth it in the end?
4. Bring your own healthy appetizer or dish. Most often when we are invited to a party we ask if we can bring something to contribute to the feast. Instead of asking what to bring, offer a couple options up front: “I would love to bring my beet, pear and feta salad” or “I have a roasted butternut squash dish that is to die for!” Yes we really enjoy other people’s cooking but sometimes we run the risk where everything being served isn’t health or calorie-conscious. So bust out your favourite salad recipe to give you and the other dinner guests a healthy option to dig into.
We can still enjoy some good food and good company without the weighing feeling that we may put on a few pounds. So eat, drink and be merry!