The Holiday Survival Guide – Part Two

ChristmasOrnament One of the best/worst parts of the holiday season is all of the food. While cookies and candies and seven-course meals certainly add to the festive atmosphere, they add to other things as well – namely your belly, thighs and hips.

This holiday season, why not enjoy food and drink with those you love without overdoing it? This is no easy task considering the bombardment of calorie-laden stuff on offer everywhere: from that smiling sample lady at your neighborhood grocery store, to the workplace break room piled high with homemade cookies and candies and breads, to the much-needed cocktail break in the middle of your frenzied shopping, hardly a moment passes without the opportunity to partake is some “festive” way. But with a little pre-planning, you can be better equipped to say “no” when you should and “yes” when it’s really worth it – and that can mean the difference between having an enjoyable holiday season or putting on another 10,000 seasonal calories you really don’t need. Here are my top four tips for avoiding extra calories during the holidays:

1. Don’t Skip Meals – I know, this sounds counterintuitive – if you’re going to a party or restaurant later, it seems like skipping a meal earlier in the day is a good way to “save” calories, right? Actually, for most people, it never works out that way. Skipping breakfast or lunch will deplete your energy levels, put your mood in a nose-dive and cause you to actually eat more – either at the party or before you even get there. Part of this is physiological (your body gets hungry and it says, “Give me calories now!”) but the bigger part is psychological – you’ve been “starving yourself” all day, so now you feel that you really deserve to cut loose and “reward yourself.” A much better plan is to eat slightly smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, and then employ the next three tips!

2. Eat Something Before You Go – Before you head out to that party with the heavy hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages, eat something low-calorie but substantial, like a big salad or a bowl of vegetable soup. Filling up on fiber will make you less likely to overstuff yourself once you’re there, and by making your pre-party meal a healthy one, you’ll be giving your body what it’s really hungry for.

3. Set a Time Limit and Stick to It – Eating small, regular meals and snacks throughout the day and a filling meal before the party will only help you if you don’t out-stay your hunger. The longer you stay at a gathering, the more likely you are to keep picking on this or that. If you stay for more than two hours, you might even decide that it’s time to eat another full meal, especially if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Speaking of that…

4. Employ the Every-Other Rule – This is good advice whether you’re at a party, a restaurant or in your own home: for every alcoholic beverage you drink, make the next one a full glass of water or cup of herbal tea. This will not only help your stomach feel full throughout the night, but it will help temper the effects of the alcohol (one of which is making you want to eat more).

Well, there you go. I hope these tips help you safely navigate the holiday buffets. If you happen to have a day or two when you do overindulge, don’t worry – I’ll tell you how to combat those extra calories in Friday’s finale to this series.

If you missed Part One, read it here.

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