This time of year it seems like everyday is full of processed, rich, sugary foods and while it is tempting to think of the whole month as a splurge month with a few strategies you can get through it relatively smoothly.
(Athletes - Remember that sugar acts to suppress your immune system, so if your sport or training demands you to be in peak health over the holiday season keeping control of your sugar intake will help you ward off colds and flus that could keep you side lined)
- Plan ahead - if you know you’ve got an office lunch Tuesday, drinks with friends Thursday and a big party Friday night make sure that you meal plan your week so that the other meals and snacks are healthy.
- Eat Sensibly - On the day of an event a lot of people try to not eat anything and save all of their calories for the party. This usually ends up backfiring as you get to the party and inhale far more food because you are starving. Eat your normal meals, just make sure they are healthy - eggs and fruit for breakfast over eggs and toast, or a salad with grilled chicken over say a heaping plate of pasta and chicken. That way you are full, but not stuffed, so you can still indulge in a bit of extra party food, but you hit the party less starving, which means you can make responsible choices.
- Drink Sensibly - it’s holiday time so by all means enjoy some beverages, but try this. chase every 2 drinks with a glass of water, have a large glass of water before you go to sleep and put one by your bed side for when you first get up. This will help you have a couple less drinks but more importantly it will help you deal with the main reason for a hangover - dehydration. In terms of calories generally the more alcohol a beer or wine has listed on the label the more calories it has. Generally lighter coloured beers have less calories (although Guinness has a respectable 153 calories despite it’s beautiful blackness). Mixed drinks that are calorie friendly include vodka and club soda with bar lime or a splash of cranberry, bloody Mary, Manhattan, rye and ginger or a highball (whiskey and ginger).
- Realize you can’t eat it all - learn to prioritize the party food. For example across parties - Aunt Jane makes the best food ever while your buddy Joe’s idea of party food is cracking open a bag of chips. Solution - Aunt Jane’s party is your splurge day, enjoy it, it’s holiday season. Joe’s party - have a salad and grilled chicken before heading over and leave the chip bowl alone. At the party table - love meatballs but can take or leave the cheese plate - well do that then. No one says you have to eat some of everything. Look at the table pick one or two of your favourites and fill the rest of your plate with raw veggies or fruit.
The point of the holidays is to spend time with friends and family relaxing and enjoying life. Don’t turn the next 3 weeks into a marathon eating fest that you are bound to regret in January. It’s not just about weight gain, it’s about keeping heathy and keeping your game and training on track - and it’s pretty hard to hit the gym hard with a belly full of shortbread.