Holiday parties, family gatherings, and increased access to treats and sweets may bring feelings of anxiety as you work to develop a balance with your food choices. With a bit of pre-planning, flexibility, and compromise you can manage the holiday season guilt-free. Consider these tips at your next social gathering:
Don’t show up hungry:
A common mistake is “saving calories” for a big meal and showing up to the event completely famished. Eat something healthy and at least somewhat filling before you go. I recommend choosing lean proteins and high volume foods (like veggies) throughout the day so that you are able to fill your plate wisely when you get to the party.
Don’t linger by the food table:
Make a conscious choice to enjoy the foods offered, but don’t eat just because other people are eating or because it’s convenient. If you find yourself mindlessly noshing on food, try situating yourself away from the table. Make being lazy work for you – if you have to walk to the table to access the food you are less likely to continue snacking.
Avoid mindless snacking:
A couple bites while preparing your dish, some extra snacks from the coffee table spread of appetizers, and snacking on the leftovers while cleaning up from the meal can add up to a substantial amount of extra calories. The problem with mindless eating is you aren't able to enjoy the food - it mostly goes unnoticed! Make it a rule that you will sit down and enjoy appetizers, your meal, and a dessert if you are planning on having one. If you still struggle with mindless snacking - try chewing a piece of gum after the meal to remind yourself not to snack unncessarily.
Appreciate the people:
It doesn’t have to just be about the food! Appreciate the opportunity to visit with friends, family, or coworkers. Try striking up a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. You could even bring along a board game to encourage socializing instead of snacking.
Load up on vegetables first:
Put vegetables first on the plate. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. You will always put more on your plate of the first thing.
- Veggies first: fill half your plate with veggies or fresh salads
- Protein second: choose a lean protein (there is usually turkey, ham, or shrimp rings as an appetizer!)
- Carbohydrate third: choose your favorite starch, fruit, or hold out for dessert!
Be strategic with alcohol:
Try to avoid anything that is mixed with pop and be mindful of how much you are drinking. It’s easy to forget that the calories from alcohol can add up fast. Go in with a set limit of 1-2 drinks for the evening and rotate your alcoholic beverages between water, seltzer or diet soda to help spread them out.
Choose treats wisely:
Start by assessing what is available. You will want to know all the options before you start to fill your plate. As you look over the offerings, choose one food that you only enjoy this time of year to indulge in. Spend your calories on an item you wouldn’t normally get to eat at home or something that you love. In other words - "be a snob about your treats." Only choose the items that are your absolute favorites. If the food or treat is just "meh", try to hold out for something you would really love and savour. If you feel that saying no to a treat would be rude. You could always say “I am just so full from a delicious supper. It looks very good though. Perhaps I can try one later on.”
Let go of food FOMO:
It is easy to have FOMO (“fear of missing out”) with endless tasty treats available. Remember, those foods can always be purchased or made in the future. There is no point in eating to the point of feeling sick or guilty just because you are scared you won’t get to try something. Ask yourself: “will this food taste as good as my FOMO is telling me?” Remember, you could always have that food item the next day if you really wanted to.
Eat slowly and take breaks between bites. Enjoy the flavour, textures, and aroma of the food. Listen to your body and eat only until you’re full – don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate! Try setting your fork down between bites or taking a sip of water.
Ditch the guilt:
It’s okay not to be perfect. Mindfully indulging in food is normal. Find a balance between sharing special moments and focusing on your goals. Embrace being flexible with your food and know that one “off” meal won’t derail your progress.
Contribute a healthy dish:
It's easy to eat a full meal's worth of calories with appetizers. For example, 2 chicken wings, 2 sausage rolls, and 1 mini quiche have the same calories as a healthy meal. Try contributing a healthy recipe or appetizer to share with others. This way you know there will be food that aligns with your goals. Plus, you might inspire someone else to consider making healthy eating a priority! Try bringing lean meatballs as an appetizer or our Holiday Turkey Meatballs recipe. You could bring a light dip, like our Avocado Dip, with fresh vegetables or pita chips. You could even keep it simple by preparing a vegetable or fruit kebab:
Continue with your regular workout routine or consider planning some travel workouts if you will be away from home. You don't have to complete a "formal" workout either - stay active with walking! Walking is a great way to visit with friends and family while staying active - you could even walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy the outdoor light dispalys.